Sheriff Kevin Thom talks past, present, and future
RAPID CITY, S.D. — A law enforcement career spanning four decades, from joining the sheriff’s office in Minot in the late 1970’s to serving with South Dakota’s Division of Criminal Investigation, is coming to an end.
Kevin Thom, who has served as the sheriff of Pennington County for the last 11 years, is not running for re-election in the 2022 cycle, and instead gave endorsement to his chief deputy, Brian Mueller.
Thom says he has seen some big changes in the office over the last decade.
“Social media was obviously strong then; I think it’s even stronger now in terms of influence,” Thom says. “We use social media for a lot of good things; there’s also a downside to some of the things on social media.”
Another focus of Thom’s career has been drugs, with the increase in methamphetamine use and the issue of marijuana legalization.
“Methamphetamine has permeated almost all parts of our criminal justice system. When you look at officer-involved shootings, you look at domestic violence, you look at homicide…almost all of them have a nexus to methamphetamine,” Thom says.
Thom, along with the State Highway Patrol superintendent, filed a lawsuit against Amendment A, which would have legalized recreational marijuana and was voted yes on by more than 54% of South Dakotans.
The sheriff faced blow-back from many locals who saw the lawsuit as a way to undermine the will of the people.
“It was three topics, so it was confusing how it was presented to the voters. And I say, put recreational marijuana on the ballot and do a straight up vote just on recreational marijuana; I don’t believe the citizens of South Dakota will approve it,” Thom says. “I don’t think we’re ready for that; I don’t believe the citizens of South Dakota are ready to unleash marijuana.”
As for Thom himself?
“I don’t have a pre-conceived plan or notion yet; just trust that God will open a door and I’ll see which one it is I’m supposed to go through and, you know, see what the future holds,” Thom adds.
The new sheriff will be chosen by the voters in June and will take office on January 2, 2023.