The Leon County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse was re-established by Sheriff Campbell shortly after he took office in 1997. The twenty-two current volunteer members provide their own horses for mounted posse duty. Horses are used in patrolling at various events and for riding in parades. One of the duties volunteers enjoy is visiting various institutions, whether a grade school or nursing home. These riders and their horses welcome the opportunity to represent the Sheriff’s Office. They take time to answer questions regarding the posse and most especially, their horses. Horses must be calm and patient, allowing strangers, and especially small children, to come up and pet them.
The horses owned by the volunteer members come from varied backgrounds and disciplines. One member uses her horse for Competitive Trail Riding, while another uses her horse for pleasure riding. No matter the background, these horses are people-friendly and must accept strange and sometimes scary situations confidently.
All horses, prior to acceptance into the Mounted Posse, are required to undergo an evaluation. They must successfully maneuver an obstacle course in a calm, controlled manner. This not only tests the horses, but the riders as well. After passing the obstacle course, horses and riders continue their training, either through workshops by visiting trainers or traveling to various training facilities. Volunteers are offered training in other areas as well, including CPR, radio communications, search and rescue and high-stress situations. The Leon County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse must meet accreditation standards in order to maintain official standing as a special volunteer unit of the LCSO. Volunteers work hard to make sure these standards are met, and often exceeded.
Members are responsible for any expenses related to their privately-owned horse. This includes vet bills, feed and maintenance as well as saddles, bridles and other tack items.
During the fall, horses and riders can be seen at High School football games taking place at Gene Cox Stadium. Other events that volunteers can be found riding are July 4 at Tom Brown Park, Red Hills Horse Trials and the North Florida Fair. Since the initiation of Mounted Posse patrols, car break-ins and other crimes at these events has decreased dramatically. Riders atop horses have a vantage point that foot patrol, or even vehicle patrols do not. The horses easily maneuver between vehicles and riders’ views can encompass larger areas with one sweep.
A recent posse initiative that has been well received by neighborhoods throughout Leon County is the Neighborhood Patrol. Posse members volunteer their time and horses to ride the neighborhoods, talking to residents and children and making their presence felt. Sheriff Campbell recently received an email from a homeowner thanking him for the posse patrol in her neighborhood and commenting she would like to see this more often.
Many of the children in Leon County recognize the flagship horse, Big Red, on sight. Sheriff Larry Campbell can often be seen riding Red at events, much to the delight of Leon County residents. The members of the Leon County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse are proud to represent the Sheriff’s office and strive to maintain the high standards set by our Sheriff.