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News Every Day |

South Dakota reserve officers play key role during pandemic

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Tim Dahmen knew joining the Minnehaha County Law Enforcement reserves would be an opportunity to help out.

He didn’t think that would mean pulling a shift in the jail during a pandemic.

He’s one of about 20 police reserve officers the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office tapped to help with scheduling holes from COVID-19 related staffing issues.

When COVID-19 reached South Dakota, the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office asked the reserves if they’d be up to filing gaps should the pandemic cause staff shortages or excessive overtime.

That request proved useful quickly.

Since March, 47 inmates and 43 correctional officers tested positive for COVID-19. The number of inmate cases does not reflect the total number of people who may have been booked at the jail and later developed symptoms. and there have been no COVID-19-related deaths in the jail.

The Minnehaha County Jail trained 23 of the reserve officers to work in the jail if needed. Of those, six officers worked at the jail as of last week, covering over 52 hours at the jail and a variety of shift hours since May, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.

While there wasn’t an entire shift of jail staff impacted all at once, it was important to have a group of extra trained workers, said Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy Jeff Gromer.

“We received some very beneficial assistance at some very key times,” Gromer said. “We were able to maintain our shift numbers and staff were not forced to work overtime to the extent we were fearful of.”

Police reserve officers normally spend their required minimum of eight hours per month of volunteer hours helping with special events or riding along with law enforcement, both of which were mostly halted during the pandemic. In...

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