By Lieutenant Phil West, Mono County Sheriff’s Department
The mounted unit was a highly visible unit yet had a soft demeanor: “The war horse: resolute in action, gentle in manner.” As Rich Perkins used to say, “No one ever comes up and asks to pet our patrol car.”
The mounted unit was able to direct large numbers of people that would take five or more officers on foot. The mounted patrol could accomplish this with one or two horses and in a gentle manner. The detail grew into an “Interagency Mounted Detail.” With the neighboring agencies together deployed up to 8-10 mounts at events that drew large numbers of people. At one event, we were asked back each year by the Chamber of Commerce because we (the horses), “had made it a family event again.”
Over the first few years, the unit made several arrests, but that began to taper off as a “particular element” saw the horses and either quietly leave the area or properly maintain themselves. It afforded the opportunity for folks to talk to a ‘cop’ in a more personal manner and not have the metal barrier of the patrol car in the way.
Quite a testament to the proactive nature of working mounted.
Unfortunately, with retirements and officers coming into the business that are not equestrians, the detail has diminished due to attrition. As Perkins would say, “Me and my merry band of men.” ~;o)