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Rapid City officials named to national commission to investigate Missing and Murdered Indigenous people

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Sunday
Published: May. 15, 2022 at 9:45 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, murder is the 3rd leading cause of death for indigenous women.

To fight that statistic the U.S. Departments of Interior and Justice created a commission to investigate the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People across America. Two Rapid City men have been named to serve on that committee.

The Not Invisible Act, signed into law in 2019, forms a commission made up of law enforcement, tribal leaders, and family members of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. The goal is to investigate and make recommendations to the Departments of Interior and Justice. Rapid City Chief of Police Don Hedrick, and Gregg Peterman with the U.S. Attorneys Office in Rapid City, are part of that 35-member commission.

Peterman says he’s worked on the issue for three decades, and is looking forward to exploring potential solutions.

“The commission will be looking at the issue of public safety in Indian Country and the extraordinarily high rates of violent crime, especially against women and children, but also men as well,” Peterman said. “So, it’s always been on our radar at the United States Attorney’s Office every day.”

Hedrick tells us in a statement that he’s honored to be on the commission.

“The Rapid City Police Department has solid working relationships with our community-based organizations who are working to raise awareness about the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and I hope serving on the commission will only bolster our partnerships with the goal of reducing and eliminating victimization,” Hedrick said in a statement.

Lily Mendoza, founder of the Red Ribbon Skirt Society, says she appreciates the relationship with the RCPD, and looks forward to working with members of the commission.

She adds that her organization has already carved out potential solutions with local law enforcement.

“How we go about reporting, who’s there to take the reports, if we’re being listened to, and what the protocols are to start looking for women and others who have been human trafficked.”

Mendoza says she was nominated to serve on the commission, but wants to continue working on the MMIW issue at the grassroots level.

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