RAPID CITY, S.D. (MAR. 28, 2022) – Over the past two weeks our county has been shaken by violence, with two shooting incidents in an eight-day span and with racist comments by a business owner interspersed between violent incidents that have inflamed racial tensions in our county.
Racism hurts all of us. The comments made by the owners of the Grand Gateway Hotel are despicable and do not reflect the values of our county, our people, and should be condemned at every level. But we should not forget in the midst of this that a young man is facing life threatening injuries as a result of the violence, and we must continue to pray for him and his family.
As a county we can choose to be blinded by racial hatred or choose to stand united against criminal acts of violence, wherever and whoever may commit them. This present upward trend of violent crime isn’t just affecting some of us, it affects us all.
On Saturday our brave law enforcement officers responded to a call of a burglary in progress. According to reports, the criminal pointed a firearm at officers ending in the shooting death of the criminal. Fortunately, our officers were able to return home to their loved ones physically unharmed. Our thoughts and prayers go to the courageous law enforcement officers and their families during this time.
These violent incidents have come after repeated statements by local administrative officials that crime is declining, “those numbers are actually going down,” as stated in a recent media release, while simultaneously stating that the murder rate has over doubled.
Crime statistics show massive increases in violent crime and a 600% increase in murder rate in Pennington County over the decade from 2010-2020 according to the National Incident-Based Reporting System.
“I think people in our county remember a time when one murder a year was appalling and frontpage news,” said Mechaley. “To see that number jump to 16 murders in a single year is a clear sign for the need for change. There’s a reason for that spike and in the course of my campaign to be your next Sheriff, I’m going to reveal clearly what that reason is.”
Mechaley stresses the importance and the necessity of taking a firm stance against racial hatred while instituting a sane return to law and order on our community streets.
“The only way to heal old wounds of the past is to stop making new ones today.”
“Together, we can ensure there’s never a place for racism in our local communities, make sure violent criminals are identified, investigated, apprehended, and put behind bars. Together, we can make Pennington County safer, more peaceful and less dangerous for all.”