Department History

The Vermillion area is well-known for being mentioned in Lewis and Clark's expedition to the west coast. Prior to their visit, the area had been home to Native American tribes for centuries. Lewis and Clark camped near the mouth of the Vermillion River in 1804. During their time in the area, they climbed Spirit Mound, a few miles north of Vermillion, and killed their first bison. Fur traders visited the area in 1835 and established Fort Vermillion. The City of Vermillion was founded in 1859 and formally incorporated in 1873. The Great Flood of 1881 washed away most of the city. This caused more citizens of Vermillion to rebuild on the bluff for future protection. In 1883, the University of South Dakota began classes in Old Main.

The Vermillion Police Department is proud of the history of Vermillion and embraces the cultural diversity that the University of South Dakota brings to the Mount Rushmore State. The Vermillion Police Department is a progressive agency comprised of twenty sworn and two non-sworn personnel. Our sworn personnel are assigned to the Patrol and Criminal Investigation Divisions. We serve approximately 11,500 citizens in Vermillion. During the academic year, the population of Vermillion increases with the additional students. VPD generates approximately 7,000 offense reports annually, and either hosts or participates in numerous community service programs each year.

Collectively, our officers receive over a thousand hours of training annually, and also maintain numerous certifications in skills and disciplines vital to effective policing. Our marked vehicle fleet consists of four Ford Explorers and a Ford F-150. Additionally, several of our officers are IPMBA-certified Police Cyclists, and utilize bicycles for routine and special patrols.

The Vermillion Police Department's offices are located at the Vermillion/Clay County Public Safety Center, located at 15 Washington Street in Vermillion. The building, constructed in 1989, also houses the Clay County Sheriff's Office, their jail facility, and the Clay Area Emergency Communications Center.

Former Chiefs of Police

Matt BetzenMatt Betzen
Art MabryArt Mabry
Bruce PlateBruce Plate
Gary WrightGary Wright
Merle OfferdahlMerle Offerdahl
Dave SiljenbergDave Siljenberg
Pat PurcellPat Purcell
Denny SullivanDenny Sullivan
Harry FowlerHarry Fowler
William BlissWilliam Bliss
Henry WalzHenry Walz
Tom BrickTom Brick
Louis KephartLouis Kephart

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