Jason Ravnsborg, South Dakota's attorney general-elect, announced Wednesday morning that he's selected the current Brule County State's Attorney to serve as director of the state's Division of Criminal Investigation.
David Natvig, who has been the Brule County State's Attorney since he was appointed in 2002, said some of his top priorities when he begins working with DCI in January are issues that Ravnsborg also plans to prioritize.
"The main direction that Jason has given me is to go after the drug dealers in South Dakota, the folks that bring all these poisons into our state and basically are doing all this damage to our communities and to our children," Natvig said.
As DCI director, Natvig will oversee the sector of the attorney general's office that is responsible for both the training of all law enforcement officers in the state and the agents that investigate the state's felonies.
Natvig has also supported Ravnsborg's intention to repeal presumptive probation, the policy which gives low-level felony offenders probation automatically, barring aggravating circumstances, from the beginning of the attorney general-elect's campaign.
Ravnsborg said he chose Natvig, whom he has known since law school, because of his priorities and his experience, including handling major drug cases and a standoff and shooting in January 2015 in Kimball.
"I think he has the right mindset, or he's seen it on the ground, of how presumptive probation works and fails to work. He also has a good working relationship with lots of members of law enforcement," Ravnsborg said. "I really believe that Dave has the skill set from working with law enforcement, the legal background and having a very disciplined approach to things to serve the state well."
A Kimball native, Natvig graduated from South Dakota State University with a bachelor's degree in political science, then graduated from the University of South Dakota School of Law in 2000. Before graduating from law school, he interned for a law firm in Chamberlain, then came back to Kimball and started working as the deputy state's attorney. Though he'll be moving from the county level to the state level for the first time, Natvig said he feels prepared for the job.
"I would say all of my background put together has helped prepare me for this position, from being a paratrooper at Fort Bragg, going into combat and just spending years prosecuting cases, understanding how investigations need to proceed to successfully prosecute people," Natvig said.
Natvig has also served terms as the state's attorney or deputy state's attorney in Buffalo County and has worked as a prosecutor in the Crow Creek Tribal Court. He said that during his time working in the state's attorney's office, he's gotten familiar with working with local law enforcement, some of the DCI agents he'll soon be overseeing, and numerous law enforcement agencies at the state and federal levels.
"It's always been a challenge, but one of the main things in my life that I've enjoyed is the time that I've gotten to spend working with the law enforcement and trying to make our communities a safer place," Natvig said.
Natvig will take over as DCI director from Bryan Gortmaker, who has held the position for the past decade, longer than any director since Rol Kebach left the office in 1975.
"We're going to have (Natvig) go in and evaluate and give things a fresh look," Ravnsborg said.