Created: Tue, 25 Feb 2014 06:00:00 MST
Updated: Mon, 24 Feb 2014 11:31:34 MST
It was standing room only at Rapid Valley Elementary tonight, as concerned parents gathered to hear from local law enforcement and school officials after reports a sex offender is causing problems in Rapid Valley.
Nearly 300 people packed into the gym and after a short presentation, the questions came rolling in. Everything from what they could do as parents to protect their children to what could be done about this one specific person allegedly harassing children.
Hands shot up in the air and questions flew as concerned parents asked how to deal with a sex offender in their Rapid Valley neighborhood, who's allegedly been causing problems.
Law enforcement and school leaders went over South Dakota state law providing suggestions for reporting behavior that's recently circulated around 51-year-old Michael Pigney. Kevin Thom is the Pennington County Sheriff.
"We want to encourage people to report suspicious activity so, we don't want to say don't report but report and we will investigate him," Thom said.
While frustration and anger came out during some of the Q&A, many parents thought the meeting was a productive and a good reminder to community members to be vigilant.
"It comes down to the parents taking responsibility and we have great law enforcement and the liaison officers protecting us but it also comes down to the community doing their job as well," said parent Chelsee Healy.
But vigilance that some parents, like Lisa Kasuske, say should be more direct.
"We don't want to bombard the police department with all kinds of sightings, or true or not true,” Kasuske said. “We want to be actually looking out for the things that could cause a problem."
Other parents expressed a need for change higher up the chain at the state legislature, especially in regards to the amount of feet a sex offender can live from public areas. South Dakota sets that limit at 500 feet.
"It seems like it should be a little more but also like the other lady had mentioned what we can do as a community to change it so that we have a little more distance between the safe zones,” Healy said.
All to help keep children safe and a community's mind at peace.