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Mueller sworn in as Pennington County sheriff

Muller swearing in.jpg
Lee Strubinger
Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller gets sworn into office by Judge Craig Pfeifle.

After nearly 12 years, Pennington County has a new sheriff.

The state’s second most populous county welcomes Brian Mueller as its top lawman. He is replacing outgoing sheriff Kevin Thom, who is retiring.

Mueller is the 31st sheriff in Pennington County history and the third to wear the badge in the last 40 years.

Mueller was elected to the position during the primary election in June. He was sworn in on Tuesday.

Mueller said he will spend the first few weeks getting to know staff and community priorities.

“I want to get out there and spend time with line-level staff in all four divisions and encourage the rest of our command to do the same,” Mueller said. “I’m going to be working hard to develop community forums across the entire county through the course of this year to hear from the citizens that we serve and work on some communication with the folks that we’re serving every day.”

Mueller has spent the last several months shadowing outgoing sheriff Kevin Thom, who endorsed Mueller for the position.

Mueller comes into the position as the last of a $4.1 million MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge Network grant sunsets later this year. The grants are meant to reduce local jail populations and disparities.

The five-year grant was first awarded in 2017. Mueller says his office will evaluate the processes put in place because of the grant.

Harley PCSO.jpg
Lee Strubinger
Harley is the first Pennington County Sheriff's Office deputy therapy canine to get sworn in.

Mueller also said he acknowledges the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office long-standing cooperation with Rapid City Police department. That’s something he hopes to continue as sheriff.

“We’ve had some really good wins, I believe, over the last couple of years,” Muller said. “I continue to work hard to make sure we keep positive momentum going forward.”

Hundreds of other Pennington County employees were sworn in under the new sheriff, including the county’s first-ever deputy therapy canine, Harley.

CORRECTION: MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge Network grant totals were originally reported at $217 million.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.