Simplified: Matt Burns went from patrol cop to top dog in the Sioux Falls Police Department over a 25-year career in law enforcement. Ahead of his retirement next month, Burns looks back on his tenure as chief and gives a glimpse into the challenges his successor will be facing.

Why it matters

  • Burns oversaw the department through nearly six years of growth and the addition of about 30 officers.
  • He took over the department in 2015 after former Chief Doug Barthel retired. He was appointed by former Mayor Mike Huether.
  • As he prepares to retire from his career in law enforcement, the 50-year-old chief said what he's most proud of is the heart and hard work of the officers in the department.
"They're running toward the danger," he said. "It's just the culture of our department. It's a matter of strong pride that we take care of business and do it in a professional way."

What legacy is Burns leaving behind?

He connected cops with the people they serve both through social media and with the addition of community resource officers – including one specializing in mental health.

He led the department through the opening of The Link triage center – a city, state and health care partnership – as well as the approval of the bond funding a new public safety training center.

"He's leaving at the top of his game," Sheriff Mike Milstead said.

But Burns' time as chief was also marked with challenges including with narcotics, juvenile crime and national conversations surrounding implicit biases in police departments when it comes to interacting with people of color.

These are challenges his successor will also need to address, Burns said.

What happens next?

Mayor Paul TenHaken late last week appointed Lieutenant Jonathan Thum to be the next police chief.

His appointment will go before the City Council on July 6, and, if approved, he'll take over after Burns' last day on July 23.