To Serve and To Protect... PART 3: Meet some of the Hot Springs Police Department’s newest officers

The third in a series of stories focusing on the law enforcement departments of Hot Springs and Fall River County


By Charity Maness

HOT SPRINGS – Now fully staffed with eight full-time police officers, the Hot Springs Police Department is actively being more visible in the community.

Over the next couple of weeks, the newspaper will be profiling the department’s full staff of city police officers, which include the following four individuals.

Matthew Maxfield

Maxfield began his employment with Hot Springs Police Department in November 2022.

He chose the area specifically due to the “tight knit small community that I look forward to being a part of.”

While Maxfield has finished his field training he is heading off to the police academy soon.

“My favorite part of the job so far is the support and friendliness from the people of Fall River County,” said Maxfield. “I look forward to doing my best to protect and serve this great community.”

Kenneth Ayers

As a young boy growing up in a high crime area of El Paso, Texas, Ayers was inspired by the local police officers to take a higher road.

“I’d see police officers in the neighborhood who gave me hope that there was more to life than just what I saw in my neighborhood.”

Ayers began his law enforcement career in 2004 in Arizona yet was looking for a small town, small department atmosphere. In September 2022 he found his fit with Hot Springs Police Department.

Ayers brings two decades of experience to the table: USMC Infantry veteran, Criminal Investigators Training Program (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Glynco GA), Firearms Instructor, School Resource Officer, CQB Instructor, Basic SWAT, as well as Tactical Team Leaders’ Course.

The challenge he faces as an officer is “dealing with people during a difficult time in their lives and trying to help them understand that there are people who care and genuinely want to help.” 

Yet, to him, the job has it rewards.

“Seeing a victim get justice from the attention and work I put into their case,” said Ayers of the greatest reward of the job.

His advice to youth is to, “Make good choices. Do good things. Be good, have fun.”

Words he tries to live by, “Run your race with endurance. Fight the good fight. Overcome evil with good and darkness with light.”

Cherelle Hughes

Hughes began her law enforcement career as a Correctional Officer in North Dakota as well as Arizona, yet moved back home to Hot Springs in 2022 and was welcomed into the Hot Springs PD fold in January 2023 actively working in the community while awaiting her opportunity to attend the police academy.

“Ultimately I want to be able to make a difference in my community and make sure my kids have a safe environment to grow up in,” said Hughes of her choice to move back home and serve her community. “After about ten years working in corrections I knew I wanted to make a positive difference in someone’s life before they reached the stage of incarceration whether it be support for anyone in need or being a positive role model for our youth to look up to.”

She understands the hardships of being an officer and the need to “overcome the negative perceptions of what law enforcement is portrayed as and showing the community that we are here to help and keep everyone safe.” 

Though she added that the job’s greatest reward for her is, “being able to make a positive impact in someone’s life.”

Hughes brings a skill set to the table that includes USCCA Firearms Instructor, former member of Arizona Gang Investigators Association, former Security Threat Group and Criminal Street Gang Coordinator for the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Her words of advice for youth is, “Enjoy being a kid and try not to grow up any earlier than you need to.”

LexyJo Deneke

Deneke began her career in law enforcement with the Hot Springs Police Department in February 2022 following in her mother’s footsteps; her inspiration for her career choice.

“(I was inspired by) my mom who was a cop growing up, Lieutenant Soucy of RCPD who inspired me to keep pushing me toward my goals, and Deputy Cordell of PCSO who I did ride-a-longs with and who became a mentor and great friend.”

Words Deneke lives by: Why try so hard to fit in, when you were born to stand out.

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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