Mon. Feb 6th, 2023

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Co-workers are praising Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns for his foresight in leading the department over the past five years.

We told you on Wednesday that Burns will retire later this summer, closing a 25-year career in law enforcement. Thursday, Burns sat down with KELOLAND News for the first on-camera interview since his announcement.

Matt Burns says he’s been mulling retirement for a long time, but the decision to step down is bittersweet.

“It was a tough decision. I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot of things that I wanted to get done in my tenure as chief leading the department,” Burns says.

Burns cites accomplishments such as a new law enforcement training center as well as body cameras for all officers. But there are unseen influences, as well.

“I’ve always tried to be a person of honor and integrity and model that for the entire department and the city and hold up our department as a department of high institutional integrity,” Burns said.

Lt. Adam Petersen has worked with Burns for 18 years and says Burns’ vision for the department will guide law enforcement for years to come.

“He’s always looking out, planning for the future, and making sure that he’s leaving the department better than he found it and I think that’s a huge legacy of his foresight,” Petersen said.

Burns was the assistant police chief before being appointed chief and he says he hopes the city will consider hiring his replacement from within the department.

“I think there’s some immensely qualified and dedicated persons that are qualified for this job and so I think that’s very possible that the next chief will come from within if the elected leadership and the mayor sees fit and goes down that path,” Burns said.

Burns offers this bit of advice to whomever succeeds him as police chief.

“Trust your team because the men and women of the Sioux Falls Police Department, both civilian and sworn, are very good at what they do, and you can always count on them to do the right thing,” Burns said.

Burns says he’s keeping all options open for his post-retirement plans. And he’s not ruling out an eventual return to law enforcement. But for now, he wants to spend more time with his family.

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By senior