National Risk Awareness Day

March 1 is National Public Risk Management Awareness Day. The Port of Corpus Christi Authority, Texas established the day in 2019 because, “the political subdivisions of the state, by their very nature, have a unique set of inherent risks.” The day recognizes the public sector employees who must “reduce, transfer, accept or mitigate those risks, which allows for fiscal stability, decreased liability, reduced reputation risk for the public entity and improved safety.” On behalf of the SDPAA, thank you to all public servants who are working to reduce risks for their public entity and the public they serve.

Anyone in public service can appreciate those many inherent risks. Over the span of twenty-four years as a city attorney and a state’s attorney in South Dakota, I became immersed in addressing the risks encountered by local governments. Those clients were SDPAA Members (of course!) who relied extensively on the SDPAA and their vendor, Safety Benefits, Inc. of South Dakota, for all their risk management needs. The SDPAA has teamed with SBI almost since the beginning of the SDPAA in 1987.

SBI’s services are part of your SDPAA membership, including on-site loss control surveys every three years and other risk consultations by request. SBI also offers model policies and training on hundreds of topics along with access to the Employment and Government Practices and Elections hotlines for a free consultation with a legal expert on any acute risks. My public entity clients and I availed ourselves of these timely and beneficial services. My own positive experience with these services was a major motivation for me to apply for this position with the SDPAA.

The SBI team members assisting SDPAA Members have had long careers in public service so they have developed unique skill sets and insights. SBI is owned by Tracie & Todd Everson. Tracie has over two decades of experience in public sector risk management and nearly a decade of experience as a private-sector safety manager. Prior to moving to South Dakota, Tracie was the Loss Control Manager at the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust where she managed all safety and loss control initiatives for the municipalities of Minnesota. She maintains the highest certifications in the risk management field and is a certified trainer and/or inspector on many topics. Todd has an extensive background in building construction and road construction/maintenance. Prior to joining SBI, Todd was the Highway Superintendent for Aurora County, an Industrial Technology Teacher at the high school level, and the Physical Plant Manager at the State Training School in Plankinton, SD. Todd also spent more than 10 years as a carpenter in the US Air Force. Todd maintains the highest certifications to train and/or inspect on many topics.

The SBI’s law enforcement agency site surveys and trainings are led by Jeff Lanning and Matt Petersen. Jeff worked in law enforcement for 30 years as a Deputy Sheriff and a SD Highway Patrol Trooper. He was an accident reconstructionist, taught accident investigation at the state level, and was a field training officer for new officers. Jeff also taught law enforcement courses as an adjunct instructor at Dakota Wesleyan University. Matt has over two decades of experience as a local corrections officer and a SD Highway Patrol Trooper. He was a Reconstruction Specialist and taught basic, intermediate, and advanced crash investigation at Law Enforcement Training in Pierre. Matt was a Field Training Officer for the SD Highway Patrol and was involved in teaching for the last 15 years of his law enforcement career. Jeff and Matt can empathize with any law enforcement issues a local public entity may experience in South Dakota.

Trainings are an integral component of any risk management program. The above demonstrates the SBI team has a high level of proficiency for training on any local government issues. As you know from our last article, the SDPAA through SBI annually provides thousands of hours of training opportunities either in-person or virtually for thousands of public entity employees across South Dakota. We will continue to expand our training opportunities to ensure you have the most up-to-date training on the most pressing issues facing local governments today. Watch for an upcoming new program on cybersecurity.

The SDPAA and SBI want to assist you in managing your public entity’s risks. No private insurer would offer your public entity such a comprehensive risk management program. If you have any questions or would like your public entity to explore becoming a Member of the SDPAA, please contact the SDPAA at 800-658-3633 option 2 or by email at

David Pfeifle, SDPAA Executive Director