Tom Jeans - new interim Deputy Sheriff
Jeans has a lifetime of communication and business experience that, according to him, transfer well to law enforcement. "I'd rather talk my way through a situation," said Jeans. "I would rather not ever have to fight, but I have and will if needed." The last part is understood, since some of his hobbies are weight lifting, long distance running and bicycling.
Sheriff Larry Hanes said of Jeans, "He's trained, he's been to the academy, and he has experience."
Law enforcement was not Jeans original choice for a career. "When I graduated from high school, I wanted to pursue law enforcement or broadcast journalism. I severely injured my left elbow and knee when a split rim truck tire blew apart. I then pursued journalism. I was hired by a newspaper in Minnesota which owned a low power television license. I did commercial production, sports and weather."
Earning increasingly higher positions and promotions, Jeans grew in the profession. Positions included Production Manager at KSFY-TV in Sioux Falls and finalized at KTVN-TV in Reno, NV, as Creative Services Director and Operations Manager. He also freelanced for CBS, NBC and ESPN Sports, operating a hand held TV camera for sporting events.
"But, I wanted to own my own video production company; I had the entrepreneur spirit. In 1992, I opened a full service video production company in Rapid City - Prism Video Services, Inc.
"It was totally different being on my own. Money was difficult to come by. I did the selling, commercial writing, location videography, and editing. My wife, Janice, helped me when she could, and even my children did what they could to help. Our business eventually grew dependent on the skills of my middle son, Mark, who has a degree in Motion Graphics and Computer Animation. In 2004, he wanted to go back to school to be a Christian counselor. I had been in television production for over 25 years, and I also was ready for a change.
"I always wanted to be in law enforcement. At my age, if I didn't do it then, I probably never would do it. I knew that I could physically do the job and I have the disposition." Jeans is the first to admit that he is forward and tries to make friends with everyone.
In 2004, Jeans was hired as a deputy sheriff for Pennington County. In June of 2005, he moved to his duty station in Wall and worked there until June of 2006. During his training, Jeans graduated in the top of his class from the South Dakota Law Enforcement Academy in March of '06.
In July, he transferred to Mission to work as city police officer. "This was an extremely difficult job," said Jeans. "Each call had potential officer safety issues. Many involved domestic abuse or assault and involved weapons. It was a great learning experience, but not an environment I wanted to stay in for an extended time."
Jeans started the position as deputy sheriff for Haakon County on October 23. "I love it out here. This country is a little bit more rural. These are great people. I could almost do this job for nothing," said Jeans.
Jeans wife, Janice, operates a 'porta-medic' company and travels to perform physicals for insurance company clients. Jeans has three children; James - 28, Mark - 25, Danielle - 24, Sara - 2 (his black labrador hunting dog). Jeans' other hobbies include writing and reading, computers, fishing, stock car racing, and airplane piloting.