Native Americans in Rapid City, South Dakota, from left: Michael Red Fox (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe), 55; John Bear Ribs (Standing Rock and Oglala Sioux Tribe), 53; and Claude McDonald (Northern Cree), 55. Photo by Richie Richards

Native Sun News Today: City aims to keep Native homeless population safe

Looking for Indian help in downtown security
Mayor Allender: ‘I am committed to us’
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

RAPID CITY –– The mayor of Rapid City wants to bring together a group of Rapid City citizens in hopes of keeping the downtown area safe for business owners, shoppers, tourists, and the Native American homeless population.

Mayor Steve Allender has been placed with the responsibility of forming the Downtown Security Task Force, which according to the City of Rapid City website, “The purpose of this Task Force is to review options for increasing security in Downtown Rapid City. Representatives will join Mayor Steve Allender, City Council representatives, and community leaders in regular working sessions.”

Native Sun News Today interviewed Mayor Allender on this yet-to-be-formed task force which has an application deadline date of Friday, March 31, 2017. These questions are presented in question and answer form as follows:

Q: Can you discuss the need for such a group? What are the goals and time needed to accomplish those goals?

“The need for a Downtown Task Force is debatable. The fact of the matter is, the City Council desires that the group be formed in order to look into the security problems in the Downtown area. After the Council voted to establish a task force, I went to work gathering information from other communities who have experienced the same type of issues. There's a strong focus on "downtown ambassador "programs.

“I believe that the goals of the group are to allow a cross-section of our community to achieve understanding of the problems and the origin of the problems. Once this has been accomplished, the task force would provide its thoughts and any recommendation to the Mayor's Office, who will then pass it on to the City Council. There's no guarantee that the findings of the group will be implemented. The City Council is responsible for the policy of the City and the Mayor's Office is responsible for the deployment of personnel. Even though this is a decades old issue in our Downtown area, a fresh set of eyes and new ideas are welcomed.”

Q: Based on your experience, first as police chief and now as mayor, what changes have you seen in the downtown homeless population over the years?

“Based on my experience, I have not seen a recognizable change in the homeless population in Rapid City over the years. The names and faces are different but the issues remain. Statistics tell us that approximately 60% of the homeless populations are Native American. Anecdotal evidence such as observations indicate that closer to 100% of the Downtown homeless are Native American. This is a fact that is offensive to some, but it is after all the truth. I say that without casting judgment on any individual or group.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Looking for Indian help in downtown security

(Contact Richie Richards at

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