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Law enforcement respond to calls for reform and potential defunding

Nationally, people continue to protest and demand change for law enforcement.
Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 5:16 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Nationally, people continue to protest and demand change for law enforcement.

"Whether it's gathering signatures on a petition, whether it's standing silently on a street corner with our signs, whether it's marching through downtown and chanting through a bullhorn," said Mary Haan, protest organizer with Black Hills Community Action Initiative. "Our protests take a lot of different forms."

Black Hills Community Action Initiative has held weekly protests since the beginning of June, calling attention to changes they wish to see within the Rapid City Police Department and Pennington County Sheriff's Office.

"The main reason that we continue to go out and protest, is that we believe that these issues have yet to be addressed on a city level, on a county level, and absolutely on a state level here in South Dakota," said Haan.

Haan and other protestors are bringing up the topic of defunding the police. But, Rapid City interim police chief, Don Hedrick, said it's not that simple.

"You know," said Hedrick. "If we're going to talk about defunding we need to make sure that we have other services in place. A lot of the work that we do, besides strict law enforcement, when we talk about some of the social services items that we help out with, we have to make sure that those are still in place before we completely defund them."

Hedrick also said policing is bigger than just the police department.

"Through our collective healing initiative with members of the Native American community, recently we've had a few members from the Black Lives Matter movement that have come in a spoken with us and we're going to continue to do so because it's important for us to have that engagement with the people we serve," said Hedrick.

Hedrick and Pennington County Sherrif Kevin Thom said their departments have been looking at their policies and procedures and will continue to listen to the community.

Copyright 2020 KEVN. All rights reserved.

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