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Rapid City police officer fired, charged after allegedly stealing cash from Central High School

Upon discovery of the alleged theft, which court filings indicate was under $400, Hower was immediately terminated.

Rapid City - City Hall2.jpg
Rapid City City Hall.
Mitchell Republic file photo
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RAPID CITY — A Rapid City police officer has been fired and charged after he allegedly stole cash from a cash box at a Rapid City High School.

A press release from the South Dakota Office of the Attorney General announced Thursday afternoon that Matthew Hower, 41, of Rapid City, had been charged with one count of second-degree petty theft in connection with the alleged theft.

The charges stem from alleged incidents that occurred during Hower's time as a school resource officer with Rapid City Area Schools and took place while Hower was acting in his capacity as a Rapid City police officer.

According to a statement from the Rapid City Police Department (RCPD), on May 13, the department was made aware of money missing from a petty cash box at Rapid City Central High School. A review of video surveillance made it "apparent" that Hower was responsible for the theft.

Upon discovery of the alleged theft, which court filings indicate was under $400, Hower was immediately terminated.

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"He did not work another shift for the RCPD, and his employment with the City of Rapid City ended," RCPD's statement reads.

After authorities accused Hower of the theft, the investigation was turned over to the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, who routinely assists in investigations involving police officers as suspects.

“I recognize this is a violation of trust and in direct contrast to our values and mission. These criminal actions are upsetting and troubling, and I never envisioned having to deliver this type of message about an officer. As law enforcement, we must hold ourselves to a high standard, and this includes holding our own accountable for their actions and decisions," said Don Hedrick, chief of the RCPD. “An officer engaging in criminal activity gives a black eye to all law enforcement, jeopardizes community trust, and detracts from the excellent work our officers do for our citizens every day. I hope that by quickly addressing this issue and being open and honest about the situation, our community understands how seriously we are taking this matter.”

Touting a close relationship with Rapid City Area Schools, RCPD's statement said the department supports criminal prosecution in the case.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, charges had been filed into the state's Unified Judicial System database, but neither a criminal complaint nor indictment had been filed. No date had been set for Hower to make an initial appearance in a Pennington County Courtroom.

Hower faces one Class 2 misdemeanor in the case, which is punishable by up 30 days in a county jail plus fines of up to $500. Restitution may also be ordered.

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Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTSTHEFT
A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021. After over a year in Mitchell, he moved to Milwaukee, where he now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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