Joe Ahlquist|Visual Journalist | Small Town Cops

Small Town Cops

This is a project that I was a part of at Argus Leader Media examining rural law enforcement in South Dakota.

The project was centered around the fact that the majority of decertified officers in South Dakota came from rural departments and the question, "Are people, and police officers, in rural communities safe?" Police officers in rural communities don't always have backup that's only seconds or minutes away, so that presents a different set of issues than what police officers in larger departments face.

My part of the story was very small. I went to Pierre, S.D., with Argus Leader reporter, John Hult to photograph law enforcement students going through the process of certification and training, as well as spending time with the Miller Police Department Police Chief in Miller, S.D., and some of what he does in an average shift.


Small Town Cops - MillerSmall Town Cops - MillerMiller police chief Shannon Speck looks out over the Miller High School parking lot while doing his usual walk-through of the schools in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. Speck said, because Miller doesn't have a school resource officer, him and his officers try to check up on the school almost every day. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

Miller police chief Shannon Speck looks out over the Miller High School parking lot while doing his usual walk-through of the schools in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. Speck said, because Miller doesn't have a school resource officer, him and his officers try to check up on the school almost every day. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

 

Small Town Cops - Law Enforcement AcademySmall Town Cops - Law Enforcement AcademyLaw Enforcement Academy recruits, from left, Tyler Heine, Jason Jasper, Michael Wollman, Cameron Beyer and Lamont Bracey prepare a brief presentation about a semi-automatic handgun during a South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy Basic Certification course at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

Law Enforcement Academy recruits, from left, Tyler Heine, Jason Jasper, Michael Wollman, Cameron Beyer and Lamont Bracey prepare a brief presentation about a semi-automatic handgun during a South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy Basic Certification course at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

 

Small Town Cops - MillerSmall Town Cops - MillerMiller police chief Shannon Speck, right, laughs while talking to Miller School District super intendant Mike Ruth about recent patroling of the school zones during a walk-through of the school in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

Miller police chief Shannon Speck, right, laughs while talking to Miller School District superintendent Mike Ruth about recent patrolling of the school zones during a walk-through of the school in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

 

Small Town Cops - Law Enforcement AcademySmall Town Cops - Law Enforcement AcademyLaw Enforcement Academy recruits listen to instructor, Greg Williams during an ethics class during a South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy Basic Certification course at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

Law Enforcement Academy recruits listen to instructor, Greg Williams during an ethics class during a South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy Basic Certification course at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

 

Small Town Cops - MillerSmall Town Cops - MillerMiller police chief Shannon Speck patrols the streets of Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

Miller police chief Shannon Speck patrols the streets of Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

 

Small Town Cops - Law Enforcement AcademySmall Town Cops - Law Enforcement AcademyLaw Enforcement Academy recruit Mike Boyd demonstrates the loading function of a semi-automatic handgun during a South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy Basic Certification course at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

Law Enforcement Academy recruit Mike Boyd demonstrates the loading function of a semi-automatic handgun during a South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy Basic Certification course at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

 

Small Town Cops - MillerSmall Town Cops - MillerDeb Willert, a florist at Nature Bound Floral & Greenhouse, works on a flower arrangement at the greenhouse in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. Willert said, when it came to crime at the greenhouse, she could only think of two trees being stolen in the seven years that she has worked at the there. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

Deb Willert, a florist at Nature Bound Floral & Greenhouse, works on a flower arrangement at the greenhouse in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. Willert said, when it came to crime at the greenhouse, she could only think of two trees being stolen in the seven years that she has worked at the there. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

 

Small Town Cops - MillerSmall Town Cops - MillerMiller police chief Shannon Speck interacts with children at the Miller Elementary School while doing a walk-through of the school in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. Speck explained that because Miller's elementary and junior/senior high schools are connected it easier for Miller police officers to check up on the schools. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

Miller police chief Shannon Speck interacts with children at the Miller Elementary School while doing a walk-through of the school in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. Speck explained that because Miller's elementary and junior/senior high schools are connected it easier for Miller police officers to check up on the schools. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

 

Small Town Cops - MillerSmall Town Cops - MillerMiller police chief Shannon Speck waves to a community member as they drive by outside the Miller School in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

Miller police chief Shannon Speck waves to a community member as they drive by outside the Miller School in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

 

Small Town Cops - Law Enforcement AcademySmall Town Cops - Law Enforcement AcademyLaw Enforcement Academy recruit Chance Davis demonstrates the eject function of a semi-automatic handgun during a South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy Basic Certification course at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

Law Enforcement Academy recruit Chance Davis demonstrates the eject function of a semi-automatic handgun during a South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy Basic Certification course at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

 

Small Town Cops - MillerSmall Town Cops - MillerMiller police chief Shannon Speck waves into a classroom while doing a walk-through of the school in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

Miller police chief Shannon Speck waves into a classroom while doing a walk-through of the school in Miller, S.D., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

 

Small Town Cops - Law Enforcement AcademySmall Town Cops - Law Enforcement AcademyA Law Enforcement Academy recruit sits in an ethics class with his fake, blue handgun holstered at his side during a South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy Basic Certification course at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. The fake handguns are a way to familiarize recruits with carrying a real handgun, said Scott Rechtenbaugh, head of law enforcement training. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

A Law Enforcement Academy recruit sits in an ethics class with his fake, blue handgun holstered at his side during a South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy Basic Certification course at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. The fake handguns are a way to familiarize recruits with carrying a real handgun, said Scott Rechtenbaugh, head of law enforcement training. (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)