- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2016

CLARK COUNTY, Ind. (AP) - Four new officers that have joined the Clark County Sheriff’s Office within the past year might not carry a holster, but they can offer a unique perspective to law enforcement in the county.

The Mounted Patrol, a new program for Clark County, was implemented last spring and officers say it’s gaining traction. The program is part of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office reserve program, headed by reserve officer Scott Pierce.

The patrol has four horses, each owned and cared for by a member of the reserves or a volunteer, who also cover any associated costs. Pierce and his horse, Dixie, were the first two involved in the patrol, and are now joined by three other riders and horses.

Although the idea of horse patrols predate automobiles, this is the first time it’s been used in Clark County in recent history; neighboring counties Scott and Harrison use them.

Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel said the program has been on his list since he was running for office.

“The unique part about a horse, when you have a missing person, particularly in the area of the Henryville State Forestry or Deam Lake, a horse can go a lot of places that you can’t take an (all-terrain vehicle,)” he said.

The Mounted Patrol routinely travels the trails at the forestry and Bradly Jones, chief deputy for the department, said it was an area that was missing protection before.

“There never was a presence (there) before,” he said. “Not that there’s been any issue or any reason, it’s just something else to offer. It puts a police presence there.”

Jones said that during Thunder Over Louisville this year, the first big event for the patrol, they were able to help someone who was experiencing a diabetic issue, that would not have been noticeable or accessible without the horses.

Noel said that during one of their first events, last year’s 4-H Fair, the officers patrolling on horses were afforded a unique view.

“They are elevated so they can see a lot more going on that even what an officer walking on foot can see,” Noel said. “Se we were actually able to intervene with some people who were trying to break into cars.”

Jones said the patrol will be in parades, community events, and other situations as needed, both as officers with training and arrest powers and as a way to reach out to the public in a friendly way.

“It’s just another outreach; people like that. They see positive things out of the police and that’s what we’re shooting for,” he said. “We’ve had a very good response.”

Noel said he appreciates the patrol as a form of engagement between the officers and the community as well.

“It serves a practical purpose but (also) what we’ve been trying to do is encourage more kids and teenagers particularly, but everybody really, to see that the sheriff’s department, that police officers, are approachable - to strike up that dialogue in friendly conversation where there’s that trust that builds up.”

Jones said he’s sees the program as a fixture in the department now, though he’s not sure what’s next for growth.

“Now we’ll just build around what we’ve got, and expand as needed,” he said. “As it progresses, we’ll learn what we might need to add or take away. Just like anything else, it’s a learning curve.”


Source: News and Tribune, https://bit.ly/1YuV30W


Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., https://www.newsandtribune.com

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