Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mounted Patrol protects and serves

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Remember furry television star, Mr. Ed? How about Roy Rogers' pal Trigger? Triple crown winner, Secretariat?

Yes, everybody loves horses. That is - until over a thousand pounds of muscle and sweat are barreling in your direction.

Wilson County Sheriff Bryan discussed what he calls a "very effective tool" for search and rescue missions, as well as crowd control.

Meet the Sheriff's Mounted Patrol.

The Mounted Patrol officially began in 2008. The squad is currently comprised of four deputies and their horses.

They are Teresa Reeves and black beauty, "Playboy," Craig Anderson and "Red," Brandon Cannon and Cody, and Jonathan Daniel with his latest addition, name to-be-determined.

"We started breaking him last Memorial Day. I just call him the colt for now," Daniel said.

Daniel was inspired by his father to take part in the program. His father was part of the Mounted Patrol for Tennessee State Parks.

"I always thought it was cool. I would hear him talk about the advantages they have," he said.

Sheriff Bryan explained that a horse can get a lot of places that officers in vehicles cannot. He remembered looking for a suspect who was "causing trouble" at the fair a few years ago.

"They found him and brought him to where I was. There were two or three horses who led him to me," Bryan said.

"I can see the entire midway in either direction on a horse," Daniel chimed in. "We have a higher vantage point."

Daniel demonstrated how arrests are made while riding. In one demonstration, a suspect is wedged between the horses while officers handcuff him in front of his body. In typical arrests, suspects are handcuffed behind their backs.

"This is so if the suspect were to fall while walking between the horses, he or she would be able to catch themselves," he said.

"We can do anything a ground officer can do. I've conducted traffic stops at the fair. We've had to push crowds back before and break up fights."

The Mounted Patrol next showed tactics for breaking up a fight. The horses charge toward the fighters, pushing them away from one another.

According to Reeves, one horse is as effective as 10 officers on the ground, in that type of situation.

Horses are also crucial in search and rescue.

Bryan pointed out that most of our county is rural.

"We've had requests from other counties when there is a missing person. One time an elderly man with dementia walked away and was lost for some time. We assisted in that. They spent most of the day over there and ended up finding him," Bryan said.

"A lot of bigger departments have a mounted patrol, like in Nashville or Memphis. We are probably one of the only departments our size to have this in the state. We use dogs, we use horses - whatever it takes."

Mounted patrol equipment is part of the Sheriff's Department's regular budget. Bryan noted that deputies provide their own horses.

Deputies attend a special 40-hour in-service conducted by the Metro Police Department for training where they learn to desensitize the horses, arrest procedures and defense tactics.

"We aren't out there every day. You'll see us out at major events, the Wilson County Fair, the rodeo, things like that," Bryan said. "If something does happen, we are prepared."

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Brandon Cannon and Craig Anderson, crowd control, horses, Jonathan Daniel, mounted patrol, rodeo, Teresa Reeves, Wilson County fair, Wilson County Sheriff's Department
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