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Mayor Comments On Fire Chief Charges

Kealey Bultena

The mayor of Sioux Falls is weighing in on the arrest of the former fire chief for possession of child pornography. Wednesday the mayor addressed questions about the situation he calls a tragedy.

Minnehaha County officials announced Monday that Jim Sideras faces 10 counts of possession of child pornography. Authorities executed a search warrant on the former fire chief’s home May 2, which became his last day employed with the city.

Mayor Mike Huether says authorities notified the Sioux Falls Police chief that day, and the police chief informed the mayor.

"That’s when we executed the plan that we thought was best. In terms of the specifics of what was relayed to the chief and ultimately relayed to me, all I can say is that it certainly was not good," Huether says.

Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB
Former Sioux Falls Fire Chief Jim Sideras

Huether says he knew the investigation involved child pornography. He says he won’t comment further because it is a personnel issue.

The mayor says the situation affects people beyond direct victims and the man accused.

"The family, the friends, the coworkers, the citizens – that is who this is about, and that’s why I think this one has just been so difficult for all of us is that it has cut us deep, and we can’t understand it," Huether says.

Huether says Sideras has not reached out to him, and he has not reached out to speak with Sideras.

The city's director of human resources says generally an appointed position including fire chief is different from other positions in city government. Bill O’Toole says a civil service employee is entitled to different protections.

Sioux Falls leaders say they are moving to appoint a permanent fire chief. O'Toole says city leaders interviewed eight people earlier this week. O’Toole says they want a current fire department employee in the job.

Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB
Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether listens to HR Director Bill O'Toole

"Where did we think we were going to find the next fire chief? And, based on the caliber of the people that exist in Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, we believe the next fire chief is going to come from within the department," O'Toole says.

Next the mayor has the opportunity to interview candidates. Once leaders select an applicant, the Sioux Falls City Council must consent to fill the fire chief position.

Mayor Mike Huether's news conference included additional commentary on questions he received throughout the week ahead of officials filing charges. Listen to an extended conversation on In The Moment below.

Listen to this conversation between Kealey Bultena and Lori Walsh.