Rapid City Mayor makes recommendation on next fire and police chiefs
RAPID CITY, SD — Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender is recommending Jason Culberson as Rapid City’s next fire chief and Don Hedrick as the City’s next police chief. Both men have been leading their respective departments in interim chief capacities since June.
Mayor Allender announced the recommendations after a final meeting Thursday afternoon with a panel of citizens and community leaders involved in the review/interview process.
Mayor Allender also e-mailed Rapid City Council members Thursday evening, notifying them of his recommendations. The Council will consider the recommendations at its next regularly-scheduled meeting, Monday, August 17. The mayor’s recommendations culminate a process that was initiated in late June and involved an internal request for applicants, interviews with department officials, and a review and interviews by the citizens panel.
“The process was designed to take each position, conduct a review of each department and encourage anyone internally with interest to apply,” said Mayor Allender.
Allender praised the work of the citizens panel in the process.
“I was pleased at the extensive work they put in, not only to vet applicant credentials, but to utilize their experiences and knowledge of important community issues and concerns and apply it during the interview process. Their insights and input were valuable in this process.”
“It’s not just a question of credentials, as Jason and Don are certainly qualified for their respective positions. But I believe both possess the leadership abilities to lead their respective departments and personnel, as well as the qualities to serve all the citizens of our community with a genuine sense of caring, of making our community a better place to live and raise families, and with the ability to embrace new ideas and opportunities for developing a stronger community.”
The Citizens Panel was comprised of City Council President Laura Armstrong; Pennington County Commissioner Lloyd LaCroix; Patri Acevedo, market leader with JLG Architects; Malcom Chapman, president/founder of the Chapman Group; Erin Jarvis, office manager, Minerva’s Restaurant and Bar; and Tom Johnson, president and CEO, Elevate Rapid City.
JASON CULBERSON/FIRE CHIEF
If approved by the City Council, Jason Culberson will become the City’s 19th fire chief. He was named interim chief of the department on June 19 by Mayor Allender and he would oversee a department of 158 personnel.
Culberson is a 27-year veteran of the Rapid City Fire and Emergency Services. Culberson holds a Bachelors Degree in Business and Organizational Communications from Montana State University-Billings and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Dakota Wesleyan University. He has been a member of the South Dakota Fire Chiefs Association, and the Western Dakota Tech Paramedic Advisory Committee, both since 2011; served as District VI vice president of the South Dakota Ambulance Association since 2017 and a member of the South Dakota EMS Association since 2002.
“I have the utmost confidence in Jason and his ability to manage the fire department and personnel,” said Mayor Allender. “He brings great experience, leadership and credentials to the chief’s position and a desire and willingness to lead the department into the future while providing critical fire protection and emergency services to the community.”
DON HEDRICK/POLICE CHIEF
If approved, Don Hedrick will become the 45th chief of the Rapid City Police Department and the 14th chief since 1946. He was named interim chief of the department on June 26 by Mayor Allender and he would oversee a department of 166 personnel.
Hedrick began his law enforcement career in 2002 with the Rapid City Police Department, serving as detective, patrol sergeant, patrol lieutenant, special operations lieutenant and captain of the department’s support services division.
In May, Hedrick was accepted as a Bloomberg Fellow into the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Prior to the selection, Hedrick had taken several Lakota history and language courses at Oglala Lakota College.
At the time of his interim appointment, Mayor Allender said of Hedrick, “Don brings with him years of solid law enforcement experience; he is passionate about serving our community; and he is well-respected by citizens and community leaders. I have the utmost confidence in Don during this transition to the next chapter of leadership for the Rapid City Police Department.”