Luncheon celebrates new mentorship program

Program seeks to strengthen relations between Native Americans, law enforcement

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Law enforcement and members of the community at Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City came together for lunch Thursday to celebrate the success of a new mentorship program at the school.

A participant in the Akicita Mentorship talks with her mentor during a luncheon at Western Dakota Technical Institute Thursday. Photo Date: Dec. 6, 2018.

A participant in the Akicita Mentorship talks with a mentor.

Beginning in October, about 20 students in the new Akicita Membership Program were paired with officers and deputies with the Rapid City Police Department and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

The program is named for the Akicita Society, which according to program organizers, was a community policing group in Lakota culture.

The program connects primarily Native American students interested in criminal justice with real-life experience. The goal is to inspire them to pursue careers in criminal justice to increase the diversity of law enforcement agencies and to promote positive interactions with police as role models.

“Well philosophically speaking, the goal of a law enforcement agency is to reflect the population of the community,” said Peter Ragnone, director of the Criminal Justice Program at Western Dakota Technical Institute. “So, you want the men and women on your force to be represented in the community by culture.”

The school expects to expand the program in the future. Students interested in learning more about the Akicita Mentorship can contact Dave Kinzer with the Rapid City Police Department at 605-394-4133.

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