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Keeping the peace at sturgisTry asking Sturgis Police Chief Jim Bush how many public safety officers there are working during the rally and he won’t tell you.

He hasn’t told anybody since he became chief in 1990.

The Sturgis police force swells during the rally, with officers coming from almost every state — with the most from Nebraska, Bush said.

But there are not as many out on patrol as most people think, he said.

“We move them around and make it look like we have a lot,” Bush said. “Everybody always thinks I have more people than I do.”

The process to staff officers for the rally begins April 1. Bush said letters are sent to officers who have worked in years past. Each year, Bush said he loses about 10 percent to 18 percent of the previous year’s work force and has to replace them.

Four public safety officers are assigned to every block during the rally, he said.

Bush has been in Sturgis during the rally for more than 30 years. The rally is unique compared to other week-long events through the country.

“They come into a town of 6,500 people and over a weekend we add over 800 retail businesses, he said.

This year’s 70th anniversary marks Bush’s 32nd rally and he said he is amazed at how much it has changed and grown over the years.

“It was a lot different back then,” he said. “Everybody stayed in City Park and we barely had bikes onto a second block with vendors only on the first block.”

Bush said the best thing about his job during rally week is getting to seeing old and new friends.

“Each year, there are a lot of people I have known and talked to that have come back almost every year since I have been here,” he said. “This whole rally is about people.”

It takes Bush more than month to catch up from the work created during rally week and he always looks forward to taking a vacation in the fall.

“I try to take vacation and do some hunting by myself,” he said. “A little R&R before getting on track for the rally.”