Belle Fourche Police Chief Rob Hansen said after Monday's city council meeting that he's retiring from law enforcement and moving to Alaska.

Hansen's resignation and retirement were approved by the council just before approving that the chief's badge would be taken over by the department's Scott Jones.

Jones has been with the department about three years - roughly the time Hansen took over the Belle Fourche department after Sheriff Fred Lamphere had led it on a temporary basis.

Hansen is a Vermillion native who had extensive experience in the southwest before returning to South Dakota to head the Belle Fourche department. He said his more than 20 years in law enforcement meant to him it was time to retire.

Jones is a Spearfish native and Spearfish High School grad who came to Belle Fourche from Lead. A state law enforcement academy 2002 grad, he has held law enforcement positions in Lead, Lawrence County and Spearfish.

Mayor Gary Hendrickson said the city owes Hansen a big debt for his efforts to reorganize the department into one of the best in the state and region.

"The chief has done an outstanding job," he said.

Jones, he said, would continue Hansen's policies.

"Belle Fourche is going to be in good hands," Hendrickson said.

Technically the turnover of the top police badge will come after July 2. In practical terms, the changeover is immediate.

Hansen said he has enjoyed the strong support of the city council in bringing change to the department in order to meet the challenges he found in the growing community.

The announcement also was made with most of the police department in the city council chambers at city hall.

Hendrickson said that not only is Belle Fourche losing an outstanding police officer and leader, he personally is losing a fishing partner and friend.

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