Mitchell community celebrates longtime Davison County Jail Administrator Don Radel’s 42-year career

“I know one thing we strived to do was to treat everyone as family, and I think we did,” an emotional Radel said in front of fellow officers, longtime collleagues and family.

Davison County Jail Administrator Don Radel, right, shakes the hand of former Davison County Sheriff Lyle Swenson, left, during Radel's retirement party on Friday.
Sam Fosness / Republic

MITCHELL — After four decades of leading the Davison County jail as the top administrator, Don Radel turned in his badge on Friday and called it a career.

On Friday, Radel’s 42-year career with the Davison County Sheriff’s Office was celebrated at the jail he’s led since 1984.

“Since I started, I have worked for five sheriff’s – four of you who are here – and 17 deputies,” Radel said in front of fellow officers, colleagues, friends and family who helped celebrate his retirement.

When Radel began his career as a jail administrator, he was tasked with overseeing a one-floor jail that was located at what’s now the Davison County Courthouse in Mitchell. About a decade later, the jail moved to the former Methodist hospital building on the west side of Mitchell and presented Radel with an opportunity to manage a much larger facility that can now house up to 72 inmates.

As he reflected on his time as the leader of the jail, a proud Radel pointed to the way he and staff treated others.


“I know one thing we strived to do was to treat everyone as family, and I think we did,” an emotional Radel said.

Davison County Jail Administrator Don Radel speaks to a crowd gathered Friday at his retirement party in Mitchell.
Sam Fosness / Republic

After an emergency dispatcher gave Radel a final send off through his radio on Friday evening, it brought his illustrious career to a close.

Davison County Sheriff Steve Harr said coming into work Monday morning will be “strange” without Radel roaming the facility. Harr praised Radel’s leadership and abilities to oversee the jail.

As Harr put it, Radel’s retirement will leave some big shoes to fill.

“He’s been a fixture in this building since it opened. He was great at what he did,” Harr said of Radel.

In show of appreciation, Harr and fellow Davison County Sheriff's officials presented Radel with a large framed collage built with the original bars of the jail doors at the first facility Radel worked at 42 years ago.

A collage of mementos gifted to Don Radel sits on display.
Sam Fosness / Republic

It’s not often a husband and wife work with each other, but he and his wife, Carol Radel, showed it can be done. The couple had different roles at the jail, but they have been instrumental leaders behind maintaining the facility and ushering in new upgrades through the years.

Grant Lanning, who was recently hired as a deputy for the Davison County Sheriff’s Office, was tabbed to replace Radel as the jail administrator. He recently made the transition to the role after the Davison County Commission approved Lanning to take on the top jail administrator 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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