Rapid City, South Dakota

Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation

Rapid City, South Dakota

BCJI Funding Year: FY2019

BCJI Awardee: Rapid City Police Department

Research Partner: University of South Dakota

Focus Area: North Side Neighborhood - Population 12,000

Challenges: Violent Crime, Drug Abuse, Domestic Violence

Neighborhood Characteristics

Rapid City's North Side is the target location for this Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) project. Native American residents of the North Side make up an estimated 80 percent majority of the neighborhood. The neighborhood, also known as North Rapid, is primarily comprised of lower-income households, extended stay budget motels, and government-subsidized housing. This 7.5-square mile area is only a small piece of the 6253 square miles that make up Rapid City. However, the North Side accounts for a majority of the city's criminal activity, including substantial overrepresentation in calls for service, victimization, and arrest. Between 2016 and 2018, the North Side accounted for 55 percent of aggravated assaults, 51 percent of weapons violations, 54 percent of domestic assaults, 70 percent of homicides, 52 percent of drug arrests, 62 percent of methamphetamine arrests, 42 percent of sexual assaults, 56 percent of burglaries, and 49 percent of robberies.

The North Side of Rapid City is an economically distressed community with large segments of the neighborhood that are Federally Designated Qualified Opportunity Zones (FDQOZ). Three specific FDQOZ areas are in substantial need of economic development and hot spot policing strategies. These areas include the majority of extended stay motels and at-risk housing complexes known for the highest rates of violent crime victimization in the neighborhood.

Planning Phase

BCJI planning efforts relied on existing and new cross-sector partnerships and input from the site's research partner to meet identified goals and objectives. Site practitioners depended on the articulated needs and priorities shared with the BCJI cross-sector management team to advance identified planning activities. Stakeholder participants on the cross-sector management team were identified through previous initiatives and community partnerships, including but not limited to the U.S. Attorney's Office's Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force (PSNTF) Rapid City's Council of Elders, and the Collective Healing Initiative Listening Sessions Working Group. Each of these collaborations are crucial for the planning and implementation of the BCJI initiative.

The planning effort included expansion of the Collective Healing Listening Session Working Group, developed through the Collective Healing Initiative (CHI) grant received in 2018 from the International Association of Chiefs of Police and funded by the Office of Victims of Crime. The object of this BCJI program is to expand the reach and focus of the CHI Working Group through the creation of a permanent Collective Healing Task Force in the Rapid City Mayor's Office. This task force held a prominent position on the BCJI cross-sector management team, insofar as most of the community-led responses to violent crime and victimization in the North Side neighborhood required Native community leadership. The BCJI project formalized Native American leadership positions on the Collective Healing Task Force. The aim was to address horizontal oppression and fractures within the Native American community that create barriers to community-wide collaboration and to expand the reach of the existing Native American community.

Implementation Strategies

During the Planning Phase, the Rapid City BCJI site identified the following goals to guide the development of its Action Plan:

  • Implementation Goal 1: Increasing trust-building, collaboration, and responsiveness.
  • Implementation Goal 2: Supporting area youth.
  • Implementation Goal 3: Enhancing homeless street outreach and victim services.
  • Implementation Goal 4: Revamping the Crime-Free Multi-Housing program and instituting Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) strategies.

The Rapid City BCJI team aims to accomplish the Implementation Phase goals through the following implementation strategies:

  • Increasing trust-building, collaboration, and responsiveness by continuing the work of CHI* and partnering with the CHI Working Group to support community leaders, identify and respond to violent crime trends, and advance the recommendations laid out during CHI.
  • Supporting area youth
    • Utilizing a Youth Outreach Team (YOT) model, which provides nonuniformed responses to social service and mental health needs.
      • YOT will perform a range of activities supporting a Safe Place Initiative and working with service providers to provide mentorship and support.
    • The BCJI neighborhood liaison will be responsible for developing and maintaining youth engagement strategies and focusing on positive interactions with law enforcement.
    • Launching a Handle with Care Initiative.
    • Working with Volunteers of America to assemble care bags of essential items for officers to give to those in need.
    • Engaging CHI recommendations* related to improving positive relations between police and youth.
    • Identifying at-risk youth and finding alternatives to incarceration.
  • Enhancing homeless street outreach and victim services
    • Expanding the Rapid City Police Department's (RCPD) Quality-of-Life Unit.
    • Developing outreach capacity for the native-led nonprofit Journey On.
  • Revamp the Crime-Free Multi-Housing program and institute CPTED strategies
    • Partner with multi-unit residential developments to proactively address crime trends.
    • The neighborhood liaison will work with residents of the identified hot spots in the target area to develop at least four small projects to improve environmental design and community buy-in.

*During CHI, the working group developed a list of recommendations, which the BCJI project is meant to advance:

  1. Develop a dialogue process for respectfully considering emerging conflicts between RCPD and community members.
  2. Build an accessible and responsive procedure for reporting crimes to RCPD.
  3. Use polite and gentle treatment for Native youth.
  4. Reduce negative interactions between Native youth and RCPD officers through trauma-informed practices and increase positive interactions by fostering attitudes of mutual understanding and respect.
  5. Stop treating groups of Native youth as "threats" to public safety.
  6. Provide tours and friendly access to the police station, squad cars, and special units.
  7. Use advanced de-escalation skills when confronting long-term anger and historical trauma within the Native community.
  8. Look deeper into Lakota culture to heal past conflict and teach healing paths forward. 
  9. Engage Lakota learning and healing strategies.
  10. Support efforts to honor Natives and non-Natives who show courage in facing traumatic incidents while showing respect and a caring spirit for Native people.
  11. Reduce use-of-force incidents and lower levels of use-of-force when force is necessary in Native-RCPD interactions.
  12. Share trauma-informed trainings developed by the Quality-of-Life Unit with the Native community.
  13. Engage in careful evaluation of trauma-informed programming.
  14. Extend the culture and values of RCPD leadership to patrol officers and investigators.
  15. Become more transparent about unconscious bias and the oppressive conditions it creates.
  16. Integrate the RCPD so that it reflects the community it serves.
  17. Engage in relationship-building efforts that build capacity, not resentment.
  18. Create a Native Community Street Team to build public safety partnerships for shared responsibilities.
  19. Help ensure that services to crime victims are delivered by appropriately oriented community members.
  20. Remove barriers, enhance services, and collective healing through supporting and enhancing existing Native American leadership already active in the city.
  21. Collaboratively develop and implement grant programs that create pass-through opportunities to Native programs.
  22. Facilitate police and community interactions outside of a law enforcement context.
  23. Develop a public education and information initiative.
  24. Ensure Native voices are included in the implementation of the CHI recommendations.

Other Key Partners

Collective Healing Working Group, United States Attorney's Office Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force, Rapid City Police Department's Quality of Life Team, Great Plans Tribal Chairman's Health Board, Rapid City Area Schools, Douglas School District, Pennington County Sheriff's Office, Children's Home Society, Lutheran Social Services, Juvenile Detention Center

This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2018-BJ-BX-K035 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues.

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