In preparation for new academy graduates, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office works with deputies to help the new members

RAPID CITY, S.D.– The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office is moving forward with training for members of their department. From Academy graduates to trainers, the office is working to make sure their newest recruits and deputies are ready to serve the community.

The work: Graduate versus Trainer

For academy graduates, a 15-week course must be completed before moving on. At the academy, students learn about the job in a classroom setting. The field training is where they receive actual experience working as a deputy and apply their knowledge in a real-world setting.

Trainers, however, having already finished the 15-week course, go through a 40-hour session to learn leadership and communication skills to help the recruits. “We want to know that we can trust them to help us– they know that we can help them, and we want to ensure that they maintain proper relationships with our community,” Deputy David Dross said. Dross is working in the 40-hour program to become a trainer for recruits.


According to Pennington County Sheriff’s Office Captain Chris Hislip, the deputies and recruits train using a system known as the Reno Model. “The Reno Model is a relatively new field training alternative developed to function in a community-policing environment,” according to the United States Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. It also focuses teaching members to use problem-solving techniques in their line of work. Captain Hislip also stresses an element of mental health-related teachings and the importance of emotional intelligence in an area that tends to be heavily male-dominated.

“Ultimately, every call that we deal with deals with emotions,” he explained. “And over the course of a career, our law enforcement officers are going to see a lot of traumatic events and they need to be able to handle those events emotionally in a positive way. And so we focus on the mental health aspects of things as well, instead of just maybe how to do the job.”

The role of a Trainer

For the four trainers wrapping up their 40-hour course, Captain Hislip is confident in them completing the course and preparing to do their job come March, when the academy students graduate and move on to the 15-week program. And they understand their role in making sure the community has officers in the community that will serve the people the best they can. “So, our goal at the end of this course is to be able to recognize in ourselves the importance of critical thinking and problem based learning and emotional intelligence,” Patrol Deputy Parker Frederick said. “If we have a deeper understanding of that and are passionate about it, we can better influence that onto our new deputies so they can acquire those same set of skills and understand that they’re continuously evolving. They’re continuously growing and improving.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News