Menifee Residents Sought for Riverside County Mounted Posse

If you own a horse and would like to use it to help provide community service, your local mounted Sh...

mounted posseIf you own a horse and would like to use it to help provide community service, your local mounted Sheriff's posse wants you!

Menifee residents are being sought for the Perris Troop of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department Mounted Posse. The volunteer-based organization, which serves Menifee, Perris and surrounding areas, plays an important role in security and public entertainment -- but it needs more members.

Of the eight troops in the county's posse, the Perris Troop is one of the newest and smallest groups. Active for about a year and a half, Troop P has only six qualified riders and is increasingly in demand.

"Right now, we don't have anyone from Menifee," said Shannon Rolland, a media information officer for the Perris Sheriff's station and a member of Troop P. "We have a couple from Romoland. Because Menifee is a horse community, we're appealing to local residents to join us. We're trying to keep the few of us from having to do everything."

It's not that Rolland and the other troop members mind the hard work that goes into a mounted posse. They simply want to make sure they have enough members to efficiently and safely handle all the duties required of them.

In addition to riding their horses in city parades and participating in community events such as Red Ribbon Week, the members of Troop P are expanding their supplemental services to the local Sheriff's deputies. They patrolled the parking lots of Countryside Marketplace almost every weekend during the holiday season, ready to report by radio any problems to the department's motorized units.

"We were all over the place there on Black Friday," Rolland said. "We can see above the cars, which can make us even more effective than a bike patrol. It gives potential criminals something to think about when they see us riding by.

"People were really happy we were there. We also appeared at the Menifee tree lighting ceremony. A lot of people were coming over to see the horses. Some of the riders even took their horses through the In-N-Out drive-through. People thought that was cool."

Members of the mounted posse also participate in search parties, using their ability to get into rugged terrain not always accessible by patrol cars.

Sgt. Dan Lingo, the Perris Sheriff's Station's representative to Troop P and a participating member of the posse, said tasks such as search and rescue are every bit as important as showcasing the animals and educating residents about horses.

"We want people to know this is not just a touchy-feely thing," Lingo said. "We go to every parade and picnic around, but we do a lot more than that."

The mounted posse is not considered an enforcement unit. Its members are not armed, but they usually are accompanied by a sworn officer and are in close contact with Sheriff's deputies. In essence, they serve as extra eyes and ears for the Sheriff's Department while on patrol.

Their presence also helps put residents at ease with the large but friendly creatures. Even though Menifee could be considered a "horse community," many local residents have rarely or never had the opportunity to interact with the animals in this manner.

"A lot of these people are used to city living, and they haven't had the chance to actually touch a horse," Rolland said. "Then we have a lot of the older folks who love horses but haven't been around them in a while."

There are no public funds available to support these troops, so troops are responsible for raising their own funds in addition to taking care of and transporting their own horses. Having so few people involved with these tasks presents a challenge, Rolland said.

"It's a high stress environment for the horses," she said. "It gets difficult with just a few of us taking care of them. And if there's only a few horses, they get tired and grumpy. It's nice to have more riders and horses to switch out."

Posse members must be at least 18 years old, be a U.S. citizen and pass a background check. They are required to attend a certification class, have access to a suitable horse, and have use of a truck and horse trailer.

Those interested in joining the Perris Troop should call the Perris Station volunteer coordinator at (951) 210-1000. For more information, visit the website www.riversidesheriff.org/volunteer/posse.asp

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