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Funding for government lapses as short-term spending bill stalls in the Senate

Police department to launch new unit in Rapid City

RAPID CITY (AP) — The Rapid City Police Department is using a $750,000 grant to create a new unit that will offer social services to help the homeless and individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues.

The Quality of Life Unit will be staffed by both police officers and social workers, and will focus its efforts in downtown Rapid City.

Assistant Police Chief Don Hedrick told the Rapid City Journal that police hope the unit will proactively address problems before there's a need for a law enforcement response.

"This will create a safer environment for everyone," said Hedrick.

Hedrick said the unit will make social services more accessible to people who may not know where or how to obtain them.

The office may become part of the Pennington County Health Facility, which is anticipated to open this June. The facility will house the county's Health and Human Services Department, the Crisis Care Center, and city and county alcohol and drug programs.

Hedrick said that the new unit and the Health and Human Services Department should be closely tied "because there's a lot of overlap between what we're doing and what they're doing."

The one-time grant was awarded last week by a nonprofit, the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Hedrick said the police department will find a way to keep financing the unit, should it perform as expected.

Officials said the unit is anticipated to be in operation this summer.

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