Mayor Allender holds press conference
RAPID CITY, S.D. – Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender hosted a press conference Thursday morning at the City/School Administration Center in downtown.
“Today, it’s estimated that half of our police and fire budget go toward social service issues. And more specifically issues related to poverty and homelessness. That means that without getting a headline, this city is spending an estimated, just in police and fire services, $13 million dollars every single year, year after, year after year, on just trying to tamp down the symptoms of poverty and homelessness,” said Mayor Allender.
He went on to say that another way to look at it is that the money being used to suppress the problem that homelessness and poverty have on our community is not being spent on the typical public safety function, like keeping roads safe, bringing criminals to justice, etc. He said that he thinks this is clear ineffective spending. So with One Heart Campus, the Rapid City and Pennington County hope to treat the problem of homelessness and poverty rather than just deal with it as if it’s something temporary.
In attendance was Rapid City Fire Chief Rod Seals, Assistant Police Chief Don Hedrick, Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, and Pennington County Health and Human Services Director Barry Tice.
Sheriff Thom said, “law enforcement, we don’t have the luxury to say no when the public calls. At the end of the day, everyone ends up in law enforcement’s lap. So we look for solutions that have to be cost effective but also has to be effective in terms of the services we provide. Otherwise we just create a churn of people through the system.”
“We become the 24-7 caretakers and guardians of the most vulnerable in our community. We’re the ones that are there, trying to find help for those who need it,” said Chief Hedrick.
The One Heart Campus addresses a number of issues of concern in our community, such as homelessness, behavioral health. family life and workforce development. One Heart Campus is currently undergoing renovations that will make room for more beds and more services. That remodeling is expected to be completed by mid October 2019.