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Lyman Co., Chamberlain law enforcement celebrate positive relationship

CHAMBERLAIN -- Alone with a suicidal subject, Lyman County Sheriff Steve Manger wasn't focused on answering radio calls inquiring about his safety. He was determined to save a man set to take his own life, spending an extended period of time talk...

Lyman County Sheriff Steve Manger, left, and Chamberlain Police Chief Joe Hutmacher share a laugh Thursday afternoon at the Chamberlain Police Department. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
Lyman County Sheriff Steve Manger, left, and Chamberlain Police Chief Joe Hutmacher share a laugh Thursday afternoon at the Chamberlain Police Department. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

CHAMBERLAIN - Alone with a suicidal subject, Lyman County Sheriff Steve Manger wasn't focused on answering radio calls inquiring about his safety.

He was determined to save a man set to take his own life, spending an extended period of time talking to the man, whose "big toe was on the trigger, ready to end it all" when Manger arrived.

Eventually, Manger was able to defuse the situation without any loss of life, but when he returned to his patrol vehicle, he had missed calls from several local agencies - from his department, to Brule and Jones counties and the Chamberlain Police Department.

"I didn't realize I had been out with this guy for so long and they were doing status checks and I wasn't answering, so people were thinking the worst," Manger said. "It was a really humbling feeling - it's a good feeling when you hear the cavalry coming."

The incident from several years ago, which Manger recalled Thursday, is one of many instances in which Manger has relied on the Chamberlain Police Department for backup or assistance in his 16 years with the Lyman County Sheriff's Office.

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Manger and Joe Hutmacher, Chamberlain's chief of police, work together on a weekly basis on various cases, creating a unique law enforcement bond over county lines.

Oacoma, which lies just inside the eastern edge of Lyman County, contracts with the Chamberlain Police Department for law enforcement services, easing the burden on Lyman County deputies, who are stationed in the county seat of Kennebec - 30 miles away. Hutmacher said this is the only situation he knows of in the region in which a city contracts for law enforcement services with a separate city.

"There's a lot of give and take and neighbors being neighbors," Hutmacher said. "They don't even have to call, they just know we're coming and vice versa."

The Chamberlain department has officers on duty 24 hours per day, whereas the Lyman County Sheriff's Office deputies are on-call 24/7. So, if a call comes in in the overnight hours relatively close to Brule County, Chamberlain officers will handle it and relay the information to deputies in the morning, rather than calling to wake a deputy, Hutmacher said. And Chamberlain officers can detain a suspect in Lyman County, and hold them until a Lyman County deputy can arrive on scene and make a formal arrest.

For Manger, whose four-person department covers 1,600-square-miles of land, knowing the Chamberlain Police Department is always in his corner and willing to help is a comfort.

"If you're in the southeast corner of Lyman County and you get called to the northwest corner, it's about 110 miles," Manger said. "Joe and his guys have been extremely great to work with."

But both men were quick to emphasize that, while their situation might be unique in the sense they work together more often, it's not unique for rural departments to assist each other when a major case arises.

'We're all small agencies where we don't have 20 officers or 30 officers on our department like some of the bigger areas, so when we have anything go on out here, we have to rely on each other to come together and help each other out," Hutmacher said. "That's what I really love about rural agencies' relationships. You hear it go out over the radio and you respond, no second thoughts, no hesitation."

Related Topics: CHAMBERLAIN
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