PHOTOS: Pennington County Sheriff’s Office employee becomes a U.S. citizen

23-year-old Transport Officer Branden Spence took the oath to help fulfill one requirement towards his dream of becoming a Pennington County Sheriff's Deputy

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Becoming a U.S. citizen isn’t a simple process, but the hard work of one determined employee of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office paid off on Tuesday.

23-year-old Branden Spence came to the U.S. from Australia seven years ago. He and his family did mission work with local charities, before Spence started branching out into other community service, like volunteer firefighting and Civil Air Patrol.

Spence said he’s always wanted to work in community service, and he eventually landed at PCSO. Becoming a U.S. citizen will allow him to progress towards his dream of becoming a full-fledged deputy.

“For me, it’s a lot of opportunity,” Spence said. “Without citizenship, I wouldn’t be able to be involved in my local community voting. I won’t be able to do that. I won’t be able to have any federal certified jobs. So, I mean, for me, this is a great step.”

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Several people took their Oath of Allegiance alongside PCSO Transport Officer Branden Spence on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

A dozen people from Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom took their Oath of Allegiance on Tuesday.

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23-year-old Branden Spence took his Oath of Allegiance. Spence is originally from Australia. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Spence talks with media outside Courtroom 1 at the Andrew Bogue Federal Building in Rapid City. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Dozens gathered at the Federal Building to watch their friends, family, and loved ones take their Oath of Allegiance. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom (right) and Chief Deputy Brian Mueller (left) also came out to support Spence during his naturalization. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

“I didn’t expect this many people to come out,” Spence said. His mom and grandmother – both Australian – were in the audience, as well as his wife and in-laws.

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Officer Lee Fourtier speaks to those taking the oath in Courtroom 1 at the Andrew Bogue Federal Courthouse. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann leads the courtroom in the Pledge of Allegiance. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Attorney John Dorsey sang “God Bless America” before the Oath of Allegiance. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Family and friends of those taking the Oath of Allegiance packed into Courtroom 1 on Tuesday afternoon. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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PCSO employee Branden Spence (center) takes the Oath of Allegiance along with several others on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Spence shakes hands with Judge Daneta Wollmann after taking his Oath of Allegiance. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Spence hugs his family and friends who filled the first row in support. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Spence hugs his family and friends who filled the first row in support. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Friends, family and co-workers turned out to support Branden Spence through his naturalization ceremony. (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Events, Local News