The Next Chapter

Old School AllenderI started my law enforcement career as a reserve police officer in late 1982 with the Belle Fourche, SD Police Department. I accepted a full time position with the same department starting January 1, 1984. I attended the police academy that year and just a year and a half later moved 50 miles to Rapid City, SD where I began my new adventure as a patrol officer on May 28, 1985. After serving the next 29 years as a patrol officer, detective, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and police chief, I will retire from the Rapid City Police Department on May 30th, 2014, ending a law enforcement career spanning 30 years five months, or 11,108 days. But who’s counting.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with one of the finest departments in the nation along with some of the greatest people in the world. Rapid City is a great place to live and work, and it has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve the people and the law enforcement community for the past three decades.

I’ve had many career highlights and low points, successes and failures. As police chief, one of my top priorities was to connect with the community and attempt to humanize my position. I’ve shared opinions and views that weren’t always politically correct, but they were honest. I feel good about that.

Why now? It’s hard to explain. It’s just time. The hardest thing about it for me was picking the right time to announce my retirement. I felt I needed to wait for a quiet moment – between crises, between controversies, to help prevent the public from believing I was forced out or worse yet, resigned in shame. Pretty shallow, I know.

So what will my legacy be? That story will be told after I am gone, and it’s something I can no longer control.Steve 2

It’s been fun, and rewarding, but most of all it’s been an honor to serve others for more than half my life. I am not sure what the future holds for me, but I will spend the next year or so making plans for the next chapter in my life.

Thank you for the opportunities, the partnerships and most of all for your trust and support.

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The Importance of Community Well-being to Law Enforcement


This was originally posted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (

Originally posted on IACP Blog:

Law enforcement officers are tasked with serving and protecting the community on a daily basis, but there are also other ways to contribute when off duty. Community well-being, as defined by the GALLUP/Healthways Well-Being 5 framework , refers to having pride and a sense of security in one’s community. Individuals with strong community well-being have recognized parts of their community that could be enhanced, and will use their own capabilities to contribute to its enrichment. No matter the size of the contribution, the individual recognizes that his or her augmentation has an impact on the community at large.

At its most basic element, community well-being focuses on whether an individual feels secure in his or her own neighborhood and whether the neighborhood is something to be proud of. Taking it a step further, however, community well-being focuses on the level of positive interaction one has with his or her community…

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The Younger Generations and why we’re (not) Doomed

Young GenerationThe younger generation – the 20-somethings have invaded our workplaces.  You’ve seen them, maybe interviewed them for jobs, hired them and maybe you’ve even seen them quit the place you work already.  By my generation’s standards they are flighty, they have a poor work ethic, they are short-term thinkers and they are too inexperienced to have the opinions they have about life and work and anything else for that matter.  They’re so…….young!

This problem of young workers is only compounded by the managers and supervisors in our workplaces, who are much of the time, older.  We don’t get it.  Why can’t they be happy with the wage and benefits?  Why can’t they just work and not worry so much about vacation time or insurance…after all, I made $1.90 per hour at my first job so today’s jobs are much better!

Here’s the deal – There’s a reason young workers seem different: They are different.  There’s a reason we don’t understand how they think too: because they are free thinkers.  They have hopes and dreams, goals and other things that motivate them that are sometimes very different than the things we are accustomed to.  Let’s look at the facts – if you’re 50 and fortunate to live an average lifespan, you will be (a) retired and (b) dead before the snotty-nose 20 year old who is questioning the company policy.  The fact is, that 20 year old will someday be running your company (if it still exists) and no one there will be keeping your old procedures alive in memory of you.

We – the middle-aged and older, have but two choices in dealing with the new generations of workers:

  1. Fight it.  Demand conformity to your way of thinking, your values and principals and your work ethic.
  2. Learn how to accept the fact that the young workers are going to one day rule the world.  Learn how to capitalize on their talents, values, principals and a work ethic in a way that will benefit you and them alike.

If you choose number one, I can guarantee you a life of frustration and a business or workplace that will suffer from unhealthy work practices, poor morale, low profits and low productivity.  If you are stubborn, only the young workers who can’t get hired anywhere else will work for you.  All of your young workers will be unhappy; will look for new jobs everyday; and will be disloyal to you and your workplace.  It can’t be any other way.

If you chose number two, you will have a role in the smooth transition to better times, more productive times, and happier times.

You don’t have to like it or accept it, but you had better learn to tolerate it because the transition WILL happen with, or without you.

The leaders of today should focus on setting a good example for the younger workers, because they too will be faced with this transition someday.

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More Protection from Sex Offenders

creepy-van1Currently, convicted sex offenders have certain restrictions and requirements prescribed by law. This is necessary to protect the general public and potential victims from sex offenders who may be predators.

One such restriction states that convicted sex offenders may not “loiter” in community safety zones.

Community safety zones are defined as: “the area that lies within 500 feet from the facilities and grounds of any school, public park, public playground, or public pool, including the facilities and grounds itself”.

One slight oversight in defining community safety zones, may have been not including public libraries.

Our department has been working with the Rapid City public libraries for several months to help achieve a safer environment. One of our cooperative efforts, consists of new policies and a proposed new law that restricts sex offenders from loitering within the Public Library. While this may sound somewhat harsh, I’ll give you a real-life example that should make the case for immediate action.

One such offender, has a history of molesting young people, school-age people. Since sex offender registration laws were enacted in South Dakota some 20 years ago, this particular offender has been quite obstinate and difficult to deal with.

The offender in question, Has maintained his innocence since his convictions decades ago, but his bizarre and threatening behavior and has earned him banishment from various public and private facilities in town.  In short, he targets young people and approaches them.

The offender had a habit of coming to the public library and eating a sack lunch in the children’s area, while he watched the little children. This is particularly disturbing since the behavior is not unlike the behavior leading to his offenses and convictions, and is similar to the behavior which has alarmed various other institutions since.

We did some research in an effort to determine if the offender and actions in our library was an isolated incident. There are other similar examples occurring here and at various libraries across the state that needed attention as badly as ours did.

So, I contacted Sen. Craig Tieszen and provided the facts and analysis from our department and the result was a draft Bill limiting sex offenders from loitering the public libraries. You can read the bill here.

So by now, you may be wondering why we do not ban sex offenders from all locations where children are present. That’s a good question really, and the short answer is this:

Sex offenders have rights under the Constitution. In balancing those rights with the safety of others, various things must be taken into consideration such as the rehabilitative efforts, the circumstances of the offense, as well as other related facts. The result of all this, and the bottom line is that convicted sex offenders are allowed to enter community safety zones for the purpose of conducting business, but they may not “loiter”. For the purposes of sex offender limitations, “Loiter” is defined in state statute as “to remain for a period of time and under circumstances that a reasonable person would determine is for the primary purpose of observing or contacting minors”.

Hopefully, during this legislative session, public libraries will be added to protected locations and we can rest just a little easier knowing our children are being better protected.

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Distracted Driving: You are at Risk

South Dakota is one of just a few states without significant legislation to control texting and driving.  Last year, legislators did pass a handheld device prohibition for drivers possessing a restricted permit (generally drivers from 14 to 16 years old), but the overwhelming majority of drivers are free to text and drive.

Is a law not needed?  Are we different from other states in some way?

92% of South Dakota AAA members support a state-wide ban on texting for all drivers in South Dakota, while 72% support a ban on the use of all handheld devices while driving, except in emergency situations.

There are numerous sources documenting that a high percentage of of injury and fatal crashes are related to distracted driving (NHTSA and  It is believed that the distracted driver is 23 times more likely to cause an accident than those who are not distracted.

On average, a person sending and receiving a text message will take their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds.  During that time, a car travelling 55 miles per hour will travel a distance greater than the length of a football field.  Virtually blind.  At just 30 miles per hour, the car willtexting-while-driving travel 200 feet.  Imagine all that can go wrong in 200 feet.

In the United States alone, 171 billion text messages were sent each month in 2012. Obviously, many of these messages were sent and received by people behind the wheel of an automobile.  This is bad because texting is worse than many other distractions – it creates a visual (eyes), manual (fingers/hand) and cognitive (mind) distraction… all while powering a two-ton machine down a public road.

I believe the evidence is clear. Distracted drivers cause traffic accidents and those accidents cause millions in property damage, as well as injuries and death to South Dakota citizens.

There have been several failed attempts to pass law in our state dealing with this issue.  So why have past attempts failed?  Who doesn’t want to protect from texting drivers?  Can  legislation be effective in protecting us?

How compliance with a new law works:

  • A certain percent of the population will immediately comply with a new law.
  • A certain percent will comply after learning friends and family are complying.
  • A certain percent will comply once they move the decision-making process under their control (control freaks).
  • A certain percent may comply after being ticketed and fined for the offense.
  • A certain percent will never comply.

In the next several weeks, state legislators have the power and authority to improve public safety in South Dakota by creating a law requiring all drivers to pay more attention to driving and less attention to their electronic devices.  They also have a responsibility to worry more about South Dakota citizens who will be injured or killed by distracted drivers over those who may be inconvenienced by the new law.  Sometimes I think municipal, county, state and federal lawmakers try to get behind popular legislation to avoid getting any negative press or politics on them.  What’s more important though, is knowing the facts and being willing to proactively protect the citizens they serve.

South Dakota needs a law that will address distracted driving generally, and not simply one prohibiting sending and receiving messages.  If we focus only on texting, the following functions will still be allowed:

  • Internet searches
  • Playing games
  • Watching videos
  • Using one or more of thousands of available phone apps

A simple no-nonsense law is needed - one that will address distracted driving in the following manner:

  • The law needs to be a primary offense. This means that when a police officer observes the offense being committed, they may stop and ticket the driver for that offense.
  • The law should be a class two misdemeanor. This means it would be equally as serious as a speeding violation.
  • It should include an element that addresses engaging in activities while driving that require a substantial amount of attention of the driver.

Admittedly, the above criteria will require law-enforcement officers to make subjective judgments in the field (which is not at all unusual).  As with any other offense, if those observations or judgments are disputed, the citizen has the right to go before a judge and argue their case.

In the last couple of years the cities of Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, Huron, Vermillion, Watertown, Brookings and Mitchell have taken matters into their own hands and have passed local anti-texting while driving laws.  This is all well and good, but distracted driving is not a local issue, it is a state-wide issue.  This checkerboard legislation demonstrates a lack of consistency and commitment by the people’s government.  This dangerous behavior is outlawed in some communities but legal in others.  It’s time for the state legislature to take this matter seriously and give the people what they deserve: safer streets and highways.

Distracted drivers do not discriminate between urban, rural, large or small communities. If you drive your car today, you will drive past a driver who is texting or is otherwise distracted. This puts you and every other citizen in South Dakota at risk.

Contact your legislators about this issue and help make South Dakota a safer place.

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The Golden Rule Applies to Us All

People are mean. It seems that it’s getting worse, but all ‘mature’ people probably say that from time to time. Social media is a force multiplier when it comes to visible instances of mean-spiritedness. It amplifies the bad things people think and eventually write. Some people troll the social media freeway looking for those who think differently, and use the public posts of others as an opportunity to attack. Of course, it’s easy to pick a fight online, when you’re sitting safely on your couch. Most of these people would never say these things to each other in person.

Lately I’ve seen all types of people attack not only others personally, but attack their belief systems as well. It comes from all sides – people of all religions, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and political parties. Seems someone from every group has an axe to grind and many carry a chip on their shoulder as bait.

In the last couple of weeks, I have seen the following topics lead to intense attacks on people and their beliefs:

  • Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas
  • The Pledge of Allegiance
  • Phil Robertson’s comments
  • Obamacare
  • The right to free speech.

I won’t get into details for fear of upsetting too many of you, but I will share my conclusions:

  • People are too sensitive. Social media only enables people to stand their ground on issues raised by people with differing beliefs.
  • There is a new social standard developing whereby complete acceptance of other people’s views are expected, and if not, public bullying will take place.
  • The government is the government. We elected the current local, state and federal administrations. It needs to be dealt with at the polls, not on Facebook.
  • The right to free speech goes both ways and a person’s intellect may be measured by how intensely he tries to convince idiots that he is right and they are wrong.
  • Racism exists, and racists come from all ethnic backgrounds.

As we close out 2013, perhaps a good New Year’s resolution for all of us, would be to adopt The Golden Rule. It’s not just a Christian principle, nor is it exclusively religious. Take a look:

1. Do not do unto others all that which is not well for oneself.
- 6th century B.C. Zoroaster

2. Hurt not others with that which pains thyself.
- 6th century B.C. Buddha

3. Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you.
- 6th century B.C. Confucius

4. May I do unto others as I would that they should do unto me.
- 5th century B.C. Plato

5. Do not to others which if done to thee would cause thee pain.
-3rd century B.C. Mahabharata

6. Do not do unto others what thou wouldst not they should do unto thee.
- 1st century B.C. Rabbi Hillel

7. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
- 1st century A.D. Jesus

8. None of you truly have faith if you do not desire for your brother that which you desire for yourself.
- 6th century A.D. Muhammad

9. Lay not on any soul a load which ye would not wish to be laid upon you and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.
- 19th century Bahá’u’lláh

I’ll try to be nicer, will you?

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Going Postal

Postal WorkerThe U.S. Post Office and dogs have a special relationship and one that is not unlike that of police agencies and the general public.  In both cases, service is provided to many people on a daily basis, and some bad incidents threaten to wreck it for everyone else.

Recently, a dog attacked a letter carrier in the 100 block of Montana Street in Rapid City.  There was apparently an information exchange between the Post Office and the Humane Society over the incident, as there should have been.  This is certainly not the first time a dog went after a letter carrier in our city.

Montana Street was constructed in the 1950s and many of the houses are occupied by homeowners.  Many of those are elderly with one in his 90s, at least two in their 80s, one of which is blind.

On November 8th a letter was sent to all residents of the 100 block, informing them that they would no longer receive mail to their home mail receptacle, and that they could pick up their mail at the post office.  Eventually, a community mail box will be placed on that block so that everyone will be required to walk down the block to get their mail.  Problem solved.  Have an employee who was treated badly?  Stop the service.  I get employee safety and I don’t condone vicious dogs, but to punish the ENTIRE block?  Click here to read the Post Office Letter

Imagine if the police did this.  We would have at least 90% of the city to which we would no longer provide a response.  We could send them a letter stating since we had a bad experience, they can report their crimes to the front desk at the police department.  Crimes in progress?  Not our problem – after all our employees are #1.  The customer is #last.

Come to think of it, the Post Office/dog relationship is not like that of the police and the general public.

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