Thirty volunteers participated in an evaluation held Sunday afternoon by the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office at the Claremore Expo for the department’s first-ever mounted patrol division.
The mounted patrol unit is represented as a partnership between RCSO and the community, using auxiliary deputies for search and rescue scenarios, finding of evidence in rural areas, as well as, patrolling Oologah Lake and special events.
The audition included registration, a riding evaluation and horse inspection. About 25 will be chosen to represent RCSO as mounted patrol officers.
While in the field, the unarmed unit will be accompanied by full-time reserve deputies, who will be armed at all times, said RCSO Investigator Coy Jenkins.
Jenkins said as a recognizable resource in the event of an emergency, the new patrol unit will also effectively reduce the amount of crime in the county.
“It’s encouraging to see this many people come out, and want to volunteer,” said Sheriff Scott Walton. “ It’s more than just a love for horses. These (volunteers) are having to provide their own resources, including trailer and transportation of the horse, while investing time to serve a need that we have.”
Walton said a lot of times the department receives calls involving a child or dementia patient who has wandered off into a rural area.
“A mounted patrol unit will be able to stomp through the hard-to-reach places in a timely manner, providing a view of the land that you can’t get without a 4 ft. tall ladder,” said Walton.
The evaluation process included a timed saddle session where volunteer riders were clocked on how long it took them to saddle the horse. Jenkins then pulled out a question pertaining to the rider, the horse or both.
Following each question, riders were judged on how well they walked, trotted, dismounted, stopped, lead and maintained their horse through a set of cones.
To be chosen, volunteers had to demonstrate that they were proficient and safe riders. Upon passing the evaluation, the next and final step of the recruiting process will be a background check, said Walton.