Apples and Carrots for the Newest Additions to Sarasota County's Sheriff's Office

Government

BY WES ROBERTS; WES.ROBERTS@SRQME.COM SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY DEC 15, 2020

The Sarasota County Sheriff's office presented three newcomers Colonel, Sabre and Special who have joined their Mounted Patrol unit. These new additions are not your typical officers—they each weigh over one-thousand pounds and range in age from six-years- to sixteen-years-old.

Representatives of the Mounted Patrol Unit, now consisting of eight horses, two full-time mounted officers, and a half dozen available officers who are shared with other departments, showcased the three new steeds at University Park Mall, off Cattlemen Rd.

The horses serve as a positive outreach for the police force. "It makes the deputies a little more approachable," said Sgt. A. Smith. "People come up. They love the horses. They want to talk about them, they want to touch them. It's very positive."

Mounted officer, Dep. M. Jackson says the horses offer flexibility and mobility in otherwise challenging locations like at the beach or a crowded festival, as well as having other abilities that are put to good use in police work. "Horses are very, very insightful and intuitive," said Jackson. "They will actually alert us to things that are going on before we even notice them. So if we are doing a search in the woods for a missing person, the horses actually key into something in the space that doesn't belong there, and when we know what the horse is telling us, we know where we can find the missing person."

The two full-time officers are tasked with keeping their partners, both human and equine, ready to go. "Our main focus is training the horses and training the riders," says mounted officer Dep B. Kern.

Part-time mounted officer, Dept. J. Yoder, who has only been in the unit for about three weeks, was enthusiastic. "I've always wanted to do it," she said. "It's a goal I set for myself. I started [working] in the jail, worked my way through the correction system, came out and worked patrol for two years, and then I applied, and now I am here."

On hand to assist in capturing this story and making sure the most important questions were asked was our youngest reporter Piper Roberts (my seven-year old daughter). Piper announced that the horses were "soft and nice to touch," that she was a little disappointed not to get to ride one, and then she posed the most pressing question of the day; "What are the horses going to get for Christmas?"

"Some apples, some carrots, and a little bit of peppermint, they love peppermint," said Dep. M. Jackson with a smile.

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