Rapid City Police Chief named to national commission on missing and murdered Indigenous people

RAPID CITY, S.D. — “A lack of urgency, transparency, and coordination has hampered our country’s efforts to combat violence against American Indian and Alaska Native people,” reads a statement from U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

The U.S. is fighting back.

The “Not Invisible Act” was signed into law by then-President Donald Trump in October 2020, and in its wake comes a new commission to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people.

Quick statistics:

  • According to a National Institute of Justice report, 84.3% of Indigenous women have experienced violence in their lifetime
  • More than half of Indigenous women experience sexual violence (56.1%)
  • A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) release shows that murder is the third leading cause of death for Indigenous women
  • The murder rate for Indigenous women is three times higher than that of Caucasian women.

The cross-jurisdictional commission is composed of tribal leaders, federal partners, and law enforcement – including Rapid City’s own police chief, Don Hedrick.

“What we are really trying to accomplish, from what I’ve read so far, is really trying to find and identify best practices for agencies and entities that are working with our Native American population,” Chief Hedrick says.

Assistant Chief Of Police Don Hedrick SizedThe announcement came mid-afternoon Friday following the National Day of Awareness proclaimed by President Joe Biden.

The commission will meet over 18 months, addressing everything from coordination of resources to the accurate reporting of statistics.

Chief Hedrick says Rapid City has a great number of community partners that work together to locate missing persons, not putting the responsibility solely on police.

“Every community has its own unique challenges, and I think that it’s important that we remember that being a part of a large national commission, what’s working in one part of the country might not work here in Rapid City, because we have our own unique issues,” Chief Hedrick says. “I think there are folks across the country that can learn from what we’re doing here locally.”

He’s going in open-minded and ready to learn, and even secured support from the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Chief of Police to serve on the commission.

What does he hope to gain?

“I think just learning what’s going on in other parts of the country [and] what other people are doing to address issues,” Chief Hedrick says. “I’m hoping that we can identify best practices [and] things that are working well.”

CLICK HERE for the full list of those serving on the Not Invisible Act Commission.

Categories: Local News, National News, South Dakota News