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A Tribute to ‘Me and My Merry Band of Men’

By Lieutenant Phil West, Mono County Sheriff’s Department

Phil and Abby
Phil and Abby

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.”

Richard Perkins, Bishop Police EOW August 15, 2001
Richard Perkins, Bishop Police EOW August 15, 2001

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)

Phil put another photo video together.
He says, “Some are the same pictures of Abby, but some additional with Sally and Bigun. It ends with my last mounted radio call to dispatch”:
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Officer Douglas “Scott” Russell, CHP eow July 31, 2007

Mounted Patrol Lt. Phil West of Mono County SO honoring fallen CHP Officer
Mounted Patrol Lt. Phil West of Mono County SO honoring fallen CHP Officer Douglas “Scott” Russell on July 31, 2013

The Mono County Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard, Mounted Unit, and other department personnel stood alongside the California Highway Patrol to honor a fallen CHP Officer.

Please see the below press release issued by Officer Anne Morin of CHP.

-Jennifer Hansen, Public Information Officer


On July 31, 2013, a variety of law enforcement personnel and friends gathered at the Antelope Valley Cemetery in Coleville to honor fallen California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Douglas “Scott” Russell, who was killed in the line of duty on July 31, 2007. Officer Russell was 46 years old and was an officer for 22 years. He was assigned to the Placerville Office at the time of his death, six years ago. He was deploying a spike strip to assist other CHP units involved in a high speed pursuit when the driver of the vehicle intentionally struck Officer Russell with his car. Officer Russell died from his injuries. The driver that struck Officer Russell was convicted of murder and is currently on death row.

At 12:30pm yesterday, the time the pursuit began six years ago, personnel from the CHP’s Bridgeport, South Lake Tahoe, and Placerville offices; Mono County Sheriff Ralph Obenberger and his staff; Mammoth Lake Police Department Chief Dan Watson, Mono County District Attorney Tim Kendell; representatives from the US Marine Corp Mountain Warfare Training Center; and some close friends gathered for a few moments in a formal ceremony to place flowers on Officer Russell’s grave. CHP Lieutenant Ron Cohan, Commander of the Bridgeport Office, described the events of six years ago and his acquaintances with Officer Russell. In Lt. Cohan’s remarks, he noted that Officer Russell knew the dangers of being a pedestrian on the edge of a high speed pursuit. Despite his understanding of the dangers, Officer Russell honored his CHP oath, “…if necessary, lay down my life rather than swerve from the path of duty.” All uniformed personnel saluted while the US Marine Corps bugler played “Taps” and flowers were placed on Officer Russell’s grave.

Officer Russell, and his wife, Lynn, were longtime Antelope Valley residents and met while she was employed as a Mono County Sheriff’s Department dispatcher and he was assigned to the CHP’s Bridgeport office. Officer Russell was very athletic, an outdoor enthusiast, and loved living in the Eastern Sierra’s. For these reasons, his family chose to bury him at the Antelope Valley cemetery.

If you would like more information, or additional photos of the event, please contact Officer Anne Morin at the CHP Bridgeport Office (760) 932-7995.

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