Some of the hardest working members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spend their time carrying their partners and work for a surprising amount of pay.
Um, we mean hay.
Along with the personnel driving patrol cars and working in the jails and behind the counters, some of the deputies who protect residents and visitors in the county, three equestrian programs provide support and manpower.
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More than 180 personnel are involved in the equestrian units, which include the Mounted Enforcement Detail, the Mounted Search and Rescue Unit and the Reserve Mounted Posse (located at seven Sheriff’s Stations.)
Mounted Enforcement Detail (MED) currently consists of full-time Deputy Sheriffs, and some Sheriff’s Reserves. Personnel purchase their own equestrian mounts (horses) which they use for the detail. Full time Deputies train and deploy primarily in addition to their regular work week and separate from their units of assignment.
The mission of the Mounted Enforcement Detail is to provide the Department with a well-trained equestrian unit capable of being utilized in a variety of situations including, but not limited to:
- Crime suppression/Directed Patrol
- Crowd management Ceremonial events
- “Riderless Horse” at some deputy funerals
- Static displays
- Wildfire equine and livestock evacuation
Mounted Enforcement Detail (MED) personnel have traveled to Taiwan where, along with other full-time mounted officers from across the United States, they performed for the Chinese public to celebrate the formation of their first mounted police unit. Veteran members are selected to attend training at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Academy in Ottawa.
Monthly training is conducted and our Department has historically offered six 16- to 40-hour courses approved by the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) to personnel and those of participating agencies.
They regularly sponsor one of the largest one-day equestrian training in the state with more than 100 participants. MED has transformed from a unit comprised mainly of Reserve Deputies in the 1980’s with limited capabilities to a high percentage of full time personnel with highly specialized training.
During the past few years, MED has been deployed to significant crowd management incidents including the Forum in Inglewood as part of a mutual aid response, Martin Luther King Hospital as part of the Tactical Response Force, Lynwood and Compton Christmas Celebrations, West Hollywood Halloween Event, Cinco De Mayo festival at Whittier Narrows Regional Park, Major League Soccer games at the Home Depot Center in Carson and the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena.
Mounted Search and Rescue functions as an integrated support unit to the Department in emergency situations requiring the expertise of Search and Rescue trained horse riders for searches and rescues in terrain which is not accessible by motor vehicles or helicopters. The newest group, Mounted Search and Rescue Unit, was formed in 2007. It is made up of Reserve Deputies and Civilian Specialists who must undergo extensive training including man tracking from horseback, wilderness survival, advanced first aid and life saving skills.
They are required to become SARTECH II certified under the guidelines of the National Association for Search and Rescue. They routinely conduct mounted patrol of areas such as the Angeles National Forest and work with other Search and Rescue and Forest Service assets. They can be requested for searches throughout Southern California by through the Department’s Emergency Operations Bureau
The Sheriff’s Mounted Posse has existed since the Department’s inception in 1850. During the 1940s the Posse continued to grow and was made up of Reserve Deputies. Up to the mid 1970s the Posse maintained more than 500 Reserves. Over the past 30 years, the Posse has gone through many changes.
With the increased California POST-mandated training demands for Reserve Deputies and fewer County residents who are engaged in equine activities, Reserve Posse numbers continue to decrease. In the mid 1990s Equestrian Civilian Volunteers started to become affiliated with individual Posse units. Posse members support the Department by patrolling rural trails, shopping malls, and beaches. They represent the Sheriff’s Department in parades and at community functions. They have recently paired with the Youth Activities League to spend a day with disadvantaged youth educating them about horses.
There are few things that attract more attention than a horse at static displays. Equestrian Civilian Volunteers are attached to each Posse Unit and two additional volunteer units located at Industry and Palmdale stations. They receive limited training and act as “eyes and ears,” much the same as our Volunteers on Patrol. Equestrian Civilian Volunteers are actively recruited to become Reserve Deputies.
The Posse has been involved in a variety of activities during the past five years including participation in the Studio City Holiday Parade with Sheriff Baca and the Mule Days Parade in Bishop where they recently took First Place in the color guard category.
Most notably, reserve Deputy Nancy Fite, and her camel “Burt,” participated in the Hollywood Christmas Parade along with other uniformed Posse members. Deputy Fite and “Deputy Burt” have been the subject of international media attention and are listed in the Guiness Book of World Records.
If you’d like more information or are interested in becoming part of these equestrian teams, Posse units are located at the following stations:
Altadena (626) 798-1131
Industry (626) 330-3322
Lomita (310) 539-1661
Palmdale (661) 267-4300
San Dimas (909) 450-2700
Santa Clarita Valley (661) 255-1121
Temple (626) 285-7171
For more information regarding the Sheriff’s equestrian programs, please visit http://www.lasdreserve.org/Mounted_Programs.html