Today, we face real issues, that are affecting ordinary people in their everyday lives.

Crime is at record highs, public safety has hit new lows, criminals are being given more, and the people are getting less – but paying more for it. In fact, Pennington County citizens spend the most of any South Dakota county for their Sheriff, yet our violent crime rates outpace the state and national averages.

That’s because today, my opponent and current Sheriff, are instituting policies that put less criminals in jail and more out on the street, making their success, our public safety failure.

“Success should never be measured by the failure of others. I believe what’s good for the Sheriff’s office, should be good for everyone.

That means safer streets, stable budgets, strong neighborhoods, sustainable communities and a sensible administration.”

Ryan Mechaley

Pennington County Sheriff Candidate

Safe Streets

Since the current leadership took office in 2011, Pennington County has seen crime rates steadily increase, and today, we’ve reached the highest murder and violent crime rates in our county’s history.

From 2010 to 2020, our violent crime rates increased by 75% and property crimes shot up by 37% in just 3 years. (** 2018-2020)

Compared to Minnehaha County, even with 80,000 more people, Pennington County reported having: 21 times more fondling violations, 10.7 times more rape, 4.7 times more stolen property, 2.5 times more drug offenses, and double the number of aggravated and simple assaults, just in 2020! (SD Attorney General Report: 2020 Crime in South Dakota)


Murder Rate



Vehicle Theft






Aggravated Assault


**Statistics are from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data as reported by the Rapid City Police and Pennington County Sheriff’s department from 2010-2022.  (FBI Crime Data Explorer)

In spite of all this, my opponent, the current Pennington County Chief Deputy, has stated that he believes this is still a safe place to live (KOTA Radio) and even sees this as a success, or as he said “excellence” in law enforcement. 

That’s because the current leadership and my opponent, have prioritized reducing the jail population over public safety, with the stated goal of “jail population reduction over 3 years [of] 25% or better.”

Everybody’s working together on this to ensure that … we[‘re] reducing our local jail numbers, … but that is increasing some of our failure to appear rates.”
– Pennington County Chief Deputy 1

In other words, my opponent is putting criminals back on the street instead of behind bars through practices called “Pre-Trial Release” and “Cite-and-Release,” putting our families and businesses at risk, and as stated by my opponent, often resulting in these criminals not appearing before court to face their charges.

We deserve and will do better with new vision and leadership in the Sheriff’s office. Unlike my opponent, as your Sheriff you’re safety will remain my priority.

I’m here to serve and protect you, the law-abiding citizens of this county, not the criminals.

That means my goal is apprehending criminals and making them accountable for their crimes, not setting them free and ignoring the victims. We will reduce our crime rates, and we will make our communities safe again. That starts with a change. A change in our priorities, our goals, and in our leadership, by empowering our hardworking Sheriff’s Deputies, instead of restricting them, so they can do what they do best – protect and serve you.

Stable Budgets

Pennington County taxpayers spend more than any other South Dakota county for our Sheriff’s office, accounting for 36% of the total county budget, and is 1.5 times larger than Minnehaha Sheriff’s budget, even though we’re 1.7 times smaller in population. (2020 Pennington County Sheriff’s Annual Report) (SD Attorney General: 2021 Sheriff Management Study

Sheriff's Budgets
$0 $2,300,000 $4,600,000 $6,900,000 $9,200,000 $11,500,000
Pennington County $11,201,789
Minnehaha County $7,388,036
County Populations
0 40,000 80,000 120,000 160,000 200,000
Pennington County 112,286
Minnehaha County 194,514

**2021 Sheriff’s Management Study, South Dakota Attorney General. August 4, 2021.  (2021 Sheriff’s Management Study)

That means on average, Pennington County citizens are paying over 2.5 times as much as Minnehaha County, and we end up with more crime to show for it.

Pennington County

Cost Per Person

Minnehaha County

Cost Per Person

**2021 Sheriff’s Management Study, South Dakota Attorney General. August 4, 2021.  (2021 Sheriff’s Management Study)

Despite these facts, my opponent the Pennington County Sheriff Chief Deputy believes they “save taxpayers millions of dollars annually,” through “collaboration and innovative solutions.”

Their solutions include the Safety and Justice Challenge grant, which has offered $3.4 million to Pennington County to reduce our jail population by 25% or more, through cite-and-release and pre-trial release policies and procedures, that have resulted in more criminals out on the street, instead of behind bars.(Safety and Justice: Pennington County) (Pennington County: Safety & Justice Challenge Grant)

I believe in doing the right thing, at the right time, and for the right reasons.

As your Sheriff, I’m here for you and I’ll work for you, the law-abiding citizens of Pennington County, not the criminals. I will not work for outside entities or special interests groups that encourage policies that come at the cost of our businesses and the people I’m supposed to serve in the first place.

This means I won’t sell you out for more money, or make policies that aren’t in the best interests of our county and its’ people. I’ll always do what I believe in my heart is in the best interests of the great people of Pennington County.

Strong Neighborhoods

Communities aren’t built all at once, they start one neighborhood at a time, one person at a time, by working together and going to where you’re needed, not expecting the needs to come to you.

Today, our current Sheriff’s office leadership has volunteer programs, where the volunteers must contact them to obtain more information and volunteer.

That’s one of the main differences between my opponent and I, I don’t believe law enforcement happens behind a desk, it happens by hitting the streets and walking a beat.

As a small business owner,  I know that the way things get done is by going to where the problems and opportunities are, rarely do they come to you.

That’s why as your Sheriff, I won’t wait for you to come to me, I’ll come to you, committing to a more pro-active approach by providing monthly on-site and remote trainings to our citizens, schools and businesses in order to empower you with the tools to identify criminal activity, safety practices and awareness, and methods to deter criminal activity in your area.

Sustainable Communities

Almost all solutions to problems start with communication, and not shutting others out or refusing help when it’s offered, even if it isn’t how you expected to get it.

To take our community’s back, it’s going to take the help from people and organizations throughout our county.

Sadly, over the past decade we’ve lost ground in the fight for our communities, and we won’t start getting it back until we start reaching out and talking with our rural communities,  churches, schools, mental health partners, and other organizations within our county to build working partnerships to tackle the tough problems we face together. 

But today, our current Sheriff’s leadership staff have a serious lack of transparency and accountability, often engaging in one-way communication with our communities and it’s citizens. That’s not how healthy communication works and it isn’t how you build relationships.

In fact, with the support of our current Sheriff and my opponent, the Safety and Justice grant program that has pushed for the release of criminals onto our streets, formed a committee that has been meeting in secret for several years now, including Pennington County employees, and has been spearheading efforts to revise our justice system with little to no public oversight or scrutiny.

Unlike my opponent and the current Sheriff’s administration, as your Sheriff I won’t forget who I’m working for, and that’s the fine citizens of this county.

You won’t need to schedule an appointment or go through security and checks to get to me, I’m approachable and I’ll talk with anyone at anytime.  But not just talk, I’m willing to listen, take constructive criticism and scrutiny and be accountable to those I’m serving.

That’s why as your Sheriff, I won’t wait for you to come to me, I’ll come to you, asking you for your feedback, working hard to end backroom deals and get public involvement and oversight. And instead of only providing vital information to you once a year, I’ll work to provide the public with real-time crime data on our website, so you can help us in the fight for our communities and make informed decisions for yourself.

Sensible Administration

Everyone knows in business you never throw good money after bad, but sadly, that’s exactly what our current Sheriff’s office is doing. Pennington County spends the most of any South Dakota county on our Sheriff, and we have higher taxes and crime as a result. 

Point in fact, from 2015 to 2019, Pennington County has seen a methamphetamine epidemic, resulting in a 200% increase in felony drug arrests during that time, and today, drug-related arrests account for nearly 1 in every 4 arrests. But instead of investing in tools to tackle the problem, such as purchasing a narcotics trained canine, our current Sheriff obtained a “therapy dog.” (Safety and Justice: Pennington County) (KELO Land News Article)

That’s not management, that’s mismanagement.


Drug-Related Arrests

2020 Reported Offenses *

Drug Dogs

Therapy Dogs


*Statistics were derived from SD Attorney General’s Crime in South Dakota Report, and was taken from all drug offenses compared to all arrested offenses except 90Z.  (2020 Crime In South Dakota)

*Statistics were derived from SD Attorney General’s Crime in South Dakota Report, and was taken from all drug offenses compared to all arrested offenses except 90Z.  (2020 Crime In South Dakota)

** “Pennington County Sheriff’s Office welcomes new member,” Kullyn Meffert, KELO Land News, Nov. 4, 2021.  (KELO Land News Article)

Worse yet, all too often people blame our fine, hardworking Deputies that have little to no say in the administration, who work under stressful and harsh condition, and over time we lose them. According to the South Dakota Attorney General’s 2021 Sheriff Management Study, we lost 31 personnel in one year.

Just last month it was reported that 32% of those hired as correctional officers quit within a year, and now they’re seeing a 62% decrease in qualified applicants that are applying. In short, more people are quitting, and less people are seeking the position. 


Annual Turnover

Pennington County
Correctional Officers


Qualified Applicants

Pennington County
Correctional Officers

“Pennington County Commission expands pool of employees eligible for signing bonus,” Siandhara Bonnet, Rapid City Journal.  Dec. 21, 2021. (Rapid City Journal Article)

That’s a leadership problem, not a personnel problem. As they say, people don’t quit a job, they quit the management.

You don’t build an organization, you build people, who build your organization. And if you invest in them, they’ll give you dividends.

That’s one of the main problems we face today, our law enforcement don’t have the support they need and deserve.

As your Sheriff, I’ll make sure that I invest in those that take care of us. And I won’t throw good money after bad, I haven’t done it in all my time in business and I won’t start now. Because I believe in treating your money, like I would treat my own, and I’ll take that same approach from the steps of my home to the streets of Pennington County everyday as your Sheriff.