Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender makes room for RCPD’s role in helping homeless people in 2022 budget plan


RAPID CITY, SD (KOTA) – In a meeting on Monday, Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender shared his proposal for Rapid City’s 2022 budget.

The proposal resulted in increased spending in a few areas. One of them, public security. Where Mayor Allender is hoping to correct what he believes is a problem with the role of the police service in dealing with the growing homeless population.

“Some would say that the homelessness situation in Rapid City has spiraled out of control,” Allender says.

65 percent of service calls by the police department have to do with homelessness.

“The police are not the ideal organization to deal with the homeless. Not all homeless people commit crimes, ”says Allender.

The mayor says it’s time for a change.

“Moving forward with the exact same approach for eternity is not sustainable. The roadblock we face is alcoholism and drug addiction. As well as mental health, ”says Allender.

These roadblocks are not an area of ​​expertise for the police, but make up the majority of their calls, and they simply end up transporting repeat offenders to and from prison, “providing very short-term solutions,” says Allender.

He says this leads to data that indicates Rapid City Police are 70% more overworked than surrounding police in the region, or perhaps the nation. 20 officers left the post last year and 15 this year.

“Others will leave for fear they won’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” says Allender.

Moreover, it does not do any good to anyone involved; the culprits, the police or the taxpayer who pays to make these cogs turn.

“Right now, between our police and fire budgets, we estimate that we spend about $ 15 million a year not helping anyone. There must be a better way to do this. To recover the resources of the police on crime, ”explains Allender.

He says that 70 years ago people filled rooms in an asylum, but today … it’s time to adapt and change.

“I’m not talking about free food and free accommodation and that sort of thing. I’m talking about finding homeless people who can be helped. It’ll accept the treatment, “Allender says,” and then pull them out of this situation and bring them back into the mainstream. “

In the city’s quick budget 2022, Mayor Allender is looking to add a full-time position that deals with outreach to the homeless population and staff members who take calls related to homelessness and drug addiction.

“They will work with the Rapid City Quality of Life Unit, which will train them. This represents an increase in the public safety budget. But, “says Allender,” also responding to the call of one of the most important concerns of citizens which is crime and homelessness. “

Copyright 2021 KOTA. All rights reserved.

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