As code enforcement officer resigns, Mitchell to use police officer to 'de-escalate' nuisance property scenarios

“We would have the added benefit of being able to utilize them in times when it is necessary for de-escalation," Mayor Bob Everson said of the changes to the city's code enforcement role.

Shown here is the city of Mitchell's code enforcement truck that the officer uses on the job. The city is seeking to make a change to the role by hiring a certified police officer. (Sam Fosness / Republic)

Changes are coming to the city’s code enforcement role.

With former Code Enforcement Officer Wade London’s recent resignation, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said the city is searching for a certified police officer to take on the code enforcement role. Everson said bringing in a certified police officer to take on the code enforcement position would help “de-escalate” contentious scenarios that arise when the city’s code enforcement officer addresses nuisance issues at local properties.

“We’re looking to get a certified police officer, but they wouldn’t be acting as a police officer doing police work. They would perform the same type of functions that the code enforcement officer does,” Everson said, noting London was not a certified police officer. “We would have the added benefit of being able to utilize them in times when it is necessary for de-escalation.”

The primary duties of the city’s code enforcement officer include identifying properties with nuisance conditions that breach city building codes and issuing citations to property owners who are not addressing nuisances in an allotted time frame. For example, the corroding wall on the old downtown building that sat on the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street before it was demolished is a nuisance condition that requires the code enforcement officer to issue letters and citations directing the property owner to address.

Many of the citations issued to nuisance properties that violate the city’s building codes come in the form of orders to correct, which provide property owners with an allotted amount of time to address the nuisance. And if those nuisance conditions are not addressed within 14 days, the city can take further action and ask the City Council to abate the property, or prosecute the respective building owners.


Downtown Mitchell is one area in the city that has been plagued by nuisance properties in the past like the 124 E. First Ave. building, which was recently demolished due to a handful of issues, including a corroding foundation and exterior window repairs, to name a few.

In London’s time as the code enforcement officer, he had to issue many courtesy letters for Main Street properties. In 2019, London said he issued 21 courtesy letters to downtown property owners for a myriad of nuisance conditions.

While Everson dubbed the job as “tough,” he said it is an important role that helps maintain the aesthetics of the city. Although Everson said London performed well in his role, he hopes a certified police officer will help enforcement efforts.

“There are times when things can get very contentious, and a trained law enforcement officer is trained in the area of de-escalation. That would be perhaps the biggest benefit of having a certified officer,” Everson said.

In addition, Everson said having another certified police officer working for the city would provide the Mitchell police force with a backup in times of need.

“If they are certified, we could use them as a police officer if we need an additional officer when a situation arises like someone on the police force falling ill during the pandemic,” Everson said.

According to City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein, starting pay for the modified position is just over $53,000 per year, an increase of the previous starting pay rate for the code enforcement officer job. Before the change, starting pay for the job was $48,554.

Ellwein said the job will be advertised as a code enforcement officer, although they are seeking to hire a certified police officer to take on the role.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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