SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Students and teachers aren’t the only ones returning to school on Thursday in Sioux Falls. The Police Department has dozens of school resource officers who happen to fill other duties during the summer. One of those officers has made quite an impression while patrolling the downtown area.
“That’s a beautiful car, isn’t it? It is it’s very beautiful,” said Officer Chase Vanderhule to some downtown visitors.
Vanderhule isn’t letting today’s heat get in the way of some good conversation. He’s on a first-name basis with dozens of business owners and workers.
“I try to get to know everybody, and I try to be as approachable as possible, and the mullet helps, that’s for sure.
That’s right mullet, officer Vanderhule is known as “the guy with the mullet”. It started three years ago when he began working as a school resource officer.
Man, it was really hard me being military background, three deployments overseas, I used to jump out of airplanes for a living, it was really hard to connect, “he said.
Vanderhule looked like someone who did not have a sense of humor. So he grew the same kind of mullet he had as a kid and found it worked for him.
“I’ve de-escalated a lot of situations simply by showing up, Vanderhule said referring to his haircut. Downtown business owners, like Nancy Savage of Child’s Play Toys, tell us Vanderhule is a positive ambassador for the police department.
“Two things,” he tells a couple visiting from out of town. “Sculpture Walk, have you been looking at those? And Falls Park, that’s really our two claims to fame, right on guys, well you have a great rest of your day, and have a safe trip!”
“I think it just makes us all feel better like we have somebody that we can talk to if something happens, said Savage.
Savage says open lines of communication with Vanderhule and the other officers assigned to downtown are crucial.
“I think our downtown is very safe, but to have somebody here for those little incidences I just feel like, especially this summer it’s been better than ever,” said Savage.
Vanderhule is back at Lincoln High School this year, in fact, he ran into some of his students downtown today. This father of three says the Mullet is always a great way to get the conversation started.
Tom- Are you going to keep it?
“Absolutely, as you know it is not a hairstyle it’s a lifestyle- laughs.”
Vanderhule is done with his downtown patrols for this year, he reported back to Lincoln High School earlier this week. He hopes to be assigned to downtown again next summer for a third year.