This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected.
A new program in Rapid City is bringing students and their school resource officers together.
Students get a free dinner, tickets to a hockey game, and an experience they won’t forget.
The night starts out with dinner. Zander Price and Briley Hoellen were treated to two large pizzas of their choosing.
“We went to Boss’s Pizza and then we went to the game with our two liaison officers,” Briley Hoellen, Freshman at Stevens High School, said.
“We can pick kids that we think have done an outstanding job this year academically, that we just get along super well with, or that are just fantastic kids, like the kid I brought tonight,” Deputy Thad Schmidt, School Resource Officer for Stevens High School, said.
Rapid City Rush donated four tickets to every home game to the Badge Buddies program so that two students and two resource officers can come to the game together.
“It makes me feel like more kids will want to be engaged with our liaison officers,” Hoellen said.
Deputy Schmidt says sometimes as kids grow up, they may get negative ideas about law enforcement.
“This is just an opportunity to abolish those negative stereotypes to show them that law enforcement, we’re really pretty cool. It’s an opportunity to invest in their lives and get to know them,” Deputy Schmidt said.
Briley says he feels comfortable enough with the school resource officers to tell them if something is wrong.
“I don’t look at it as that, I look at it as I can come talk to this person. It’s not like they are all big and bad, they are all trying to help the community not like deter the community,” Hoellen said.
At the game, Briley and Zander got free pucks to throw on the ice rink, caught a free t-shirt, and ate a few snacks from the concessions.
After the big win, they got to high-five the whole team and even met one of the players.
“It’s just a super fun experience to have them come down after the game and talk to them too. I mean these kids are awesome, they are great kids in school and they work so hard and having the police officers coming with them is so rewarding, and I mean it’s very good for them to see how the police can be and how they are role models just like on the Rush,” Tyler Coulter, forward for Rapid City Rush Hockey, said.
“Go Rush!” Zander Price, sophomore at Stevens High School, said.
The Rush, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and Rapid City Police have teamed up to give these students an experience they won’t forget.
“So this is something a kid wouldn’t normally see. So getting together with his favorite law enforcement officer as well as coming back and meeting a player or two and getting to see the behind the scenes type of stuff that’s really cool for a kid I think,” Deputy Schmidt said.
Since this is the program’s first year, the Rapid City School Resource Officers, students, and hockey players hope to see it continue.
“I’m so fortunate to be a part of it and I hope we can grow this into something big and kinda have all the Badge Buddies show up for a nice dressing room visit and stuff like that, I think it’d be a really good experience,” Coulter said.
“I’d like to do this again, I felt so much more confident with our liaison officers, I will mention this to every friend I have,” Hoellen said.