Eye on KELOLAND: When two sides came together


RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — The Public Safety Building in Rapid City has been around since the 1970s, built to provide space for both the Rapid City Police Department and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office. However, they continued to work separate of each other.

Sheriff Don Holloway and Chief of Police Tom Hennings met as a deputy and an officer.

“I got to know him and we developed a relationship, but our relationship really blossomed when we were both working investigations together on cases that would happen in the city limits,” Sheriff Don Holloway, retired Sheriff of Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, said.

At the time, it was frowned upon for the Sheriff’s Office and Police Department to work together so the two met at the Public Library to discuss the cases they were both working on.

“We said ‘this is just nuts, it’s crazy. If we ever get in a spot where we can do something about this, we should do it’ and so that’s kind of where the thought first came about,” Sheriff Holloway said.

In 1983, Holloway became Sheriff. Two years later, Tom became Chief of Police. That’s when the cooperation between the Sheriff’s Office and Police Department started.

“There were some of the employees that didn’t like it, some employees quit, some of the dispatchers quit because they didn’t agree with it and they didn’t want to do it, but the long-term proved that it was the right thing to do,” Sheriff Holloway said.

The two sides began consolidating evidence, working criminal investigations together, and supporting each other when duty calls. It’s a partnership that has been going strong for more than three decades.

“Our cooperation goes in a lot of different operations. Not only on the street level, when we can throw out a large number of resources at a specific call or a specific incident but it goes well beyond that. Our special response team, that’s got resources from not only the Sheriff’s Office and the PD but also the highway patrol and our dispatch center as well too and even the fire department,” James Johns, Captain with the Rapid City Police Department, said.

“I’ve never known us not cooperating with the Rapid City Police Department. Ever. That’s not in my DNA and everybody that I’ve trained since I’ve been told ‘we will cooperate with the Rapid City PD’ and it’s just second nature for all of us and so that’s how it gets done is the two bosses, the Chief and the Sheriff say get along he expects his commanding staff to enforce that and we do,” Tony Harrison, Captain of Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, said.

Not only has this shown to benefit tax payers for the Rapid City community by sharing a building, tools, and equipment… cases are also being solved quicker and more efficiently.

“I will tell you, at the end of the day, we don’t care who gets a credit for the arrest or who solves the case or who saves the baby. As long as those things are getting done, we don’t care who gets accredited for it,” Captain Harrison said.

“Sheriff Holloway and Chief Hennings established a foundation for something that anybody here at the Police Department doesn’t know any different,” Captain Johns said.

And it all started in the Rapid City Public Library, years ago, with a deputy and an officer.

“That was one of the things that Tom and I had talked about is, I hope that we can get this well enough established before either one of us leave and that it will stay in play,” Sheriff Holloway said.

The Rapid City Police Department and Pennington County Sheriff’s Office are located at the Public Safety Building on 300 Kansas City Street in Rapid City.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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