Pennington County sheriff offers extended presence and assistance in Hill City during rally

HILL CITY, S.D. – Whether heading to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse or a plethora of other places around the Black Hills, Hill City serves as a bustling midway point for travelers. And during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the population grows exponentially.

However, whether by foot or by cruiser, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office maintains its duty to ensure the safety of the public.

“We bring special deputies in from allover. We have had Montana, Iowa — I believe we have one that came in from Delaware as well,” Sgt. Scott Sitzes said. “So, from all over they come in and work the rally. And a lot of the guys that are here, they have been here for several years and just keep coming back.”

This year, PCSO has hired seven new “temporary deputies” to add to the patrol. When they arrive in Pennington County, they are sworn in as a member of the department. Once the rally is over, the deputies are decommissioned and head back home.

But even with the enormous spike in the region’s population, things tend to stay relatively calm. In fact, when members on patrol are approached by people, it is often for something as simple as directions or questions about the area.

“We get a lot of people that come up and say, ‘hey, where is this,’ or ‘where is this restaurant at,’ or ‘I just saw a couple of bikes collide.’ We run into that,” Sgt. Sitzes said.

In fact, during his patrol Sunday afternoon, citizens were even stopping to share their gratitude to Sgt. Sitzes, along with a friendly conversation. And as much as people tend to have a pre-conceived notion of rally-goers being rowdy, Sgt. Sitzes says it is often the opposite – with almost everyone there to have a good time.

“It is great to be so embedded in that community out here that people feel comfortable coming up and visiting with us,” he adds.

Of course, Sgt. Sitzes does recommend attendees — whether on a bike or not — be mindful of themselves and everyone else. Things like loud music and engines revving can distract riders and the public from their surroundings. And in an emergency situation, law enforcement responding to an incident in the area could be held up and prevented from arriving in time.

Road closures are another possibility. Riders should anticipate and be prepared to take alternative routes to their destinations no matter how short or long the rerouted road is.

But above all, the rally is a time to have fun. The sheriff’s office is on duty to extend assistance, and maybe even a restaurant recommendation or two.

“If you see us, don’t be afraid to say hey. Or if you have any questions, come on up,” Sgt. Sitzes said. “We are happy to give directions or anything anybody needs.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News, Sturgis Rally