UNET taskforce member named 2021 William J. Janklow Officer of Year Pennington County

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 10:14 AM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - On November, 10, South Dakota Highway Patrol Service Dog Handler William Berry was presented with the 2021 William J. Janklow Officer of the Year Award.

Presented at the Law Enforcement Conference in Sioux Falls, and sponsored by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and Law Enforcement Training (LET), Berry’s accomplishments over the last year were recognized and presented in front of approximately 1,500 attendees during the Law Enforcement Appreciation dinner.

The award recognizes “a deserving officer that has gone above and beyond the call of duty and demonstrated an exemplary work ethic, community service, and bravery.” Berry is a member of the DCI Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team (UNET) taskforce in Rapid City. The Patrol Service Dog Handler position was created just a year ago to be able to utilize a canine immediately during an investigation. It is the only one of its kind in South Dakota. “We are proud of what Trooper Berry has accomplished working with the UNET taskforce,” said Col. Rick Miller, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “He has been an outstanding representative of not only the Highway Patrol, but law enforcement in general, as he has helped keep our citizens and communities safe.”

According to the nomination letter for the award, Berry “was an integral part of a multijurisdictional long-term investigation which eventually resulted in the identification and disruption of a significant drug trafficking organization and one of the largest drug seizures from an investigation in South Dakota history.” The target of the investigation was living in Rapid City and was involved in the distribution of large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl coming from Mexico. The investigation resulted in the seizure of more than 70 pounds of methamphetamine, 10 pounds of cocaine, 6 pounds of heroin, approximately 6,000 fentanyl pills, more than $175,000 in U.S. currency, and multiple vehicles and firearms. The award nomination states, “The unprecedented quantities of illegal drugs, firearms, and assets seized during this investigation have impacted the street-level drug distribution activities and drug-related violence perpetrated by users and sub-distributors; thus, keeping communities safe throughout the Western Region of South Dakota and beyond.

The case agents have stated, ‘Without Bill, we would not have obtained the results we did in this case.’” The nomination also describes that outside of the above case, Berry “has shown immense bravery and courageousness in his work on the UNET.” On a daily basis, his job includes conducting targeted traffic stops and confronting known violent, often armed drug traffickers and drug dealers. “He has been involved in vehicle pursuits, foot pursuits, and even injured during these incidents. He continually goes above and beyond the call of duty and is always professional during these stops, never losing sight of the goal for the investigation,” the nomination letter states, highlighting his positive attitude and self-motivation. “His dedication to this position and the mission of keeping the community safe has motivated the entire team to become better investigators and supervisors.”

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