Evolution of the Division of Criminal Investigation
During the Fifteenth Session a bill introduced in the Senate, purposed that a State Constabulary be organized under the office of the State Sheriff. Included in the State Constabulary were the Sheriffs of the counties and their deputies all subject to call any place in the State on the order of the State Sheriff. The law allowed the State Sheriff to employ such Special Agents as needed, no more than three employed at one time, for the purposes of the office. The first active State enforcement unit was approved March 8, 1917. The State Sheriff's Office continued to operate under the strain of prohibition and the lack of personnel until it was abolished in 1933, by the 23rd Session of the Legislature.
With the abolishment of The State Sheriffs in 1933, the Department of Justice and Public Safety were organized to carry out the duties until 1935. The Legislative Session of 1935, on the recommendations of the South Dakota Peace Officers Association and Livestock and Business Interests who wanted better law enforcement, created the Department of Justice and Public Safety. This Department took over the duties of the old State Constabulary, by making all sheriffs and deputies, along with all other police officers within the state, and numerous state employees, agents of the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice was abolished in 1937.
Subsequent to 1937 legislative decisions, two state law enforcement agencies evolved that merit extended description and discussion at this point. They are the law enforcement division operating under the Attorney General's Office (a.k.a. the Division of Criminal Investigation in later organizational manifestations) and the motor patrol operating under a superintendent appointed by the Governor (a.k.a. the Highway Patrol). excerpt from: Law Enforcement: The South Dakota Experience 1889-1982, authors Alan L. Clem & James M. Rumbolz.
Division of Criminal Investigation - 1937
The Division was placed under the authority of the Attorney General by 1937. The state law enforcement division had one chief, one identification officer, two stenographers, and four agents to take care of the whole state.
By 1954 the organization, now called the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), still included only five special agents, one identification officer, one chief, and each had a state vehicle for official duties (an eighth vehicle of the DCI fleet was assigned to the Attorney General.)
The five special agents each had an assigned territory: C. Ray Dillavou headquartered at Lead and covered nine western counties; Wilson C. Fillbach headquartered at Faulkton and covered 14 counties and parts of three others in the north central and northeastern parts of the state; Rol Kebach headquartered at Philip and covered 14 counties in the central and southern sectors, and also handled cattle theft cases in Potter, Sully, Hyde, and Buffalo counties; Merle Melstad headquartered at DeSmet and covered 12 eastern counties and parts of three other; and Roy Miliken headquartered at Yankton and covered 11 southeastern counties and assisted other agents in four adjacent counties.
Chief Agent Luther Miller and Identification Agent Clayton Vickmark headquartered in Pierre and worked the entire state. When Chief Agent Miller retired, Merle Melstad served as chief agent of the DCI for six months in 1955; he was followed in that post by Rol Kebach, who was to serve twenty years in charge of the DCI. from: Law Enforcement: The South Dakota Experience 1889-1982, authors Alan L. Clem & James M. Rumbolz.
Division of Criminal Investigation - Today
Today the Division of Criminal Investigation employs 130 personnel in a variety of career paths, including Agents, Special Investigators, Analysts, Forensic Scientists, Law Enforcement trainers, Identification specialists, Sex Offender Regstration, Victims advocates, Information Technology specialists and Administrative Support Staff.
While criminal investigation is still our primary mission we also offer many services and run many statewide programs such as the State Forensic Laboratory, Law Enforcement Training Academy, Missing Persons Clearinghouse, Sex Offender Registration, 24/7 program, SAVIN, NIBRs and Statitical Analysis Center, Electronic Crimes, Elder Abuse, Polygraphs and process criminal and civilian background checks. We proudly partner with other agencies across the state in drug task forces, drug asset forfeiture program, the FUSION Center, Amber Alert and Endangered Missing Advisory and Special Victims Unit Multi-disciplinary Team.
As we move forward we honor and carry on the traditions of those that went before us while continuing to build upon and provide new services to the citizens of South Dakota.