Sioux Falls police officers
Back Talent

SFPD attracts new police officers nationwide – like this one, who moved to S.D. to begin a career

  • February 15, 2024

Garrett McCarthy tried working in financial services after college in the Omaha area but quickly realized like others in his family that he might be destined for a different path.

So with a business degree in hand, the northeast Nebraska native decided to seek additional training – in law enforcement.

“I’d always thought about law enforcement growing up – my dad is in the profession, and I looked up to him growing up, and my brother is a deputy sergeant in Nebraska,” he said.

For his own career, though, McCarthy wanted to experience somewhere different, which led him to Sioux Falls.

“I liked the city,” he said. “I thought it was a good size and wanted to move somewhere. I had never even lived outside of Nebraska at that point.”

He began training with the Sioux Falls Police Department last August.

SFPD Officer Garrett McCarthy stands in front of a Sioux Falls police cruiser

“I had actually never been here before the academy,” he said. “I had some family who had been through and said it was a nice town that was growing. It seemed like the department itself offered a lot of opportunities and trajectories for a career in law enforcement, and that really interested me. That in itself is a big advantage over a big-city or a small-town police department.”

McCarthy joins a growing number of out-of-state law enforcement professionals drawn to work in the Sioux Falls area. In 2023, the Sioux Falls Police Department hired 28 recruit officers among three hiring classes. Of those, 11 had non-South Dakota addresses when receiving their final job offer.

“We were fortunate enough to attract candidates and hire candidates from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois,” said Ethan Beck, a talent acquisition coordinator for the city of Sioux Falls.

SFPD officer Garrett McCarthy in a police cruiser

“To start 2024, our 10-recruit February class will have two new hires from California and one from Washington state. Not only that, but we also just secured our first recruit for the June 2024 class who currently resides in New Hampshire.”

Sioux Falls Police stands out for its unique combination of strengths, Beck said.

“Not only do we offer streamlined pathways towards growth opportunities both specialty based and promotional based, but an incredible benefits package via the city at large and within SFPD specifically,” he said. “Plus, Sioux Falls sells itself. We are a top-ranking city for young adults, professionals, retirees and many demographics, leading to a competitive and diversified applicant pool without a lot of hand-holding.”

The community supports law enforcement in a multitude of ways, including with major investments.

City of Sioux Falls public safety campus

Some of McCarthy’s early emergency driving training was among the first to occur at the city’s new Public Safety Campus, a state-of-the-art complex unlike any in the region.

City of Sioux Falls public safety campus

“That was a lot of fun, definitely a new experience and very instructional,” he said. “The culture of the department, I would describe as very personable. I already feel like I know so many people and have great relationships, and there’s a good sense of camaraderie. That’s a big deal to me. You want to be able to trust the people you’re working with and get along, and it’s been great so far.”

The department “offers an incredibly low vacancy rate for as large of an agency as we are, as well as community support that is not commonly found around the country for metros either our size or larger,” Beck added. “We are incredibly appreciative and proud of those community relationships.”

police officer working on computer in car

As part of the department’s commitment to finding the right people to serve and protect, a dedicated talent acquisition coordinator was added to the team in late 2022, with a focus on high-level sourcing, recruitment tactics and workforce planning. Additionally, Sioux Falls Police is working with other city departments to bring forward innovative and strategic approaches to hiring and retention.

“Whether it is our advertising tactics, our modern recruitment website and interface or consistent engagement in career fairs and events, the SFPD takes proactive steps to engaging with candidates and attracting talent to the agency,” Beck said. “Our applicant numbers improved by almost 43 percent from 2022 to 2023, and we’re hoping to see even more quality growth in 2024 and beyond.”

For new hires like McCarthy, becoming part of the team has felt seamless.

“I’ve had great training officers. They’re very knowledgeable,” he said. “They’re very good at helping you learn how to answer your own questions and improve yourself, making sure you’re doing well and progressing because they want you to succeed. It feels tight-knit here. Even the officers I’m on call with know a number of people in the area – they’re talking to people they know at the gas station, for instance, so it has a bit of a small-town feel with a lot of opportunity.”

Sioux Falls police officers talking

The success of Sioux Falls Police in managing workforce development is a benefit to the entire community, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“A well-staffed, well-trained public safety department with an outstanding culture is something that sets us apart in such meaningful ways,” she said. “Like anyone in the workplace, law enforcement wants to feel supported and valued. And in return, this leads to a safer community, which allows us to continue to be the sort of place where people want to live and work in all occupations.”

When McCarthy isn’t on the job, you’ll find him enjoying living in downtown Sioux Falls, surrounded by parks, the citywide bike trail and dozens of restaurants, breweries and cocktail bars.

“When I was in Omaha, I had a 45-minute commute to work across town, and my downtown apartment is now very close to the police department,” he said. “I’m just finding it’s a great town and a great department.”

To explore how to grow your law enforcement career in Sioux Falls, click here.

And to connect on opportunities in additional industries, email