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Police Target North Rapid In Fight Against Violent Crime

February 24, 2014, 6:23 PM by Kevin Woster

Police Target North Rapid In Fight Against Violent Crime
RAPID CITY, SD -

It's a part of town with rich cultural diversity, community pride and quiet neighborhoods busy with working-class families.  But there's another side to the north part of Rapid City, a deeply-troubled side.

A recent child abduction that generated an Amber Alert and saw two children quickly returned to their mother put the spotlight on North Rapid crime. And North Rapid also saw a shootout in August of 2011 that resulted in two police officers being killed, along with their assailant, and a third officer wounded.

But crimes that make national news are rare and the crime battle in North Rapid goes on without media attention every day. Responding to the city's highest rate of aggravated assaults and other violent crimes, regular police patrols are bolstered by officers with a special street-crimes unit to target areas of North Rapid and individuals likely to cause problems.

"We have a heavy emphasis right now on violent crimes mitigation," Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said. "And those figures point us to North Rapid City."

Those figures include a record of 292 aggravated assaults in Rapid City in 2013, with assaults in North Rapid leading the city as a whole to the unwanted high.

The issue of North Rapid crime is a delicate subject for a white police chief dealing with a part of town that has a large Native American population. It is further complicated by a history of racial conflict and alleged racism in the city.

But criminal behavior in North Rapid crosses all racial lines and finds its roots in widespread poverty resulting in dysfunction. Still, Allender says Native Americans seem particularly afflicted by criminal acts of violence.

"We do see a higher incidence of violent crimes among the Native American population," he said. "That is certainly a difficult situation to try to figure out, why? But these are Native American victims and Native American perpetrators."

Whatever the ethnic group, Allender says people want and deserve safer neighborhoods. He hopes the targeted response by police will help to provide them. But he also hopes that people in the community will continue to build on community watch groups and other unifying efforts to join the fight to reduce the crime rate in North Rapid.

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