“Unpermitted” camps spark safety concerns in Rapid City

RAPID CITY, S.D.- The origin of Monday’s fire near Star Village was traced back to an “unpermitted camp” and was “determined to be human caused”, according to a release from the Rapid City Fire Department.

The population of those without homes in Rapid City has grown over the past few years, but probably a lot more than you realize. “I would argue that the general public has no clue,” says Capt. Ryan Marcks, a mobile medic with the RCFD. 

He says that under most bridges and in many of the grassy, brush-filled areas scattered throughout the city, unauthorized camps are set up, often just yards away from “no camping or overnight parking” signs. These can pose more than just fire danger. “There are sexual assaults, physical assaults, drug use — alcohol specifically. And all of those things, unfortunately, go hand in hand,” Marcks says. 

The solution seems simple: offer shelter resources to those without shelter. Marcks explains that mobile medics, quality-of-life workers, and Parks Department employees do exactly that. “We make contact with the occupant and inform them, hopefully to educate them on this is not allowed, this is illegal. There are many options available. The first step would be to go to the CARE Campus, and speak with one of their caseworkers. They can get them started down the path towards shelter. Other options would be the Hope Center or Volunteers of America,” he says. 

Even with daily encouragement to use these free resources, many elect to not use them. One location which Capt. Marcks showed NewsCenter1 had already been vacated and cleaned up four times this year. “If individuals, either by choice or a series of unfortunate events, find themselves on the streets, there are avenues,” he says, referring to places like Care Campus, the Hope Center, and Cornerstone Rescue Mission.

If you’re concerned about a friend or family member who is struggling with housing, you can reach out to one or more of the above resources.

Categories: Crime, Local News