Sheriff's Department to use horses
Mounted division search for missing people and crowd
Taken From the Times - November 1999
Police dispatchers Chris Sears, at
Gerry, and Susan Baugher, riding Bo, are
formation of a Porter County
Sheriff's Department mounted division.
The Newest Cop? It's a Horse, Of
VALPARAISO -- People may soon see police officers on horses riding
around Porter County.
The Porter County Sheriff's Department's mounted division, which
disbanded 20 years ago, is being brought back for
special operations like
missing person searches and crowd control at events.
The horses also will be used to get around the fairgrounds and parks
during events, to appear in parades and to do presentations at schools. The
mounted division is accepting applications and should be operational by next
year's Porter County Fair.
"I'd like to see it be at least 25 to 30 strong," said
police dispatcher Chris Sears, who is spearheading the project along
with dispatcher Susan Baugher.
Sears plans to ride her horse Gerry, and Baugher plans to use her
horse Dream. Both have begun training with their animals. And they are
recruiting other members of the Sheriff's Department and other
area police departments to join.
They would also like to have people who are not in law enforcement
become Sheriff's Department reserve officers and mounted division
So that the Sheriff's Department budget isn't impacted, members will
be required to purchase and care for their own horses.
Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds said that when he was Portage
police chief, he got mounted divisions from other jurisdictions to come to
Portage for crowd control during a KKK rally.
"They were quite effective," Reynolds said.
He also saw Lake County's mounted division in a parade and thought it
had a good presence.
"I think having horses (in law enforcement) is kind of a good fit,"
Horses are not going to replace squad cars for daily patrols or
high-speed chases, but they can be valuable, Lt. Robert Herring said.
Herring rode with the mounted division on several occasions before it
disbanded in 1979 or 1980.
If the mounted division was fully operational earlier this year, it
could have been used to help search for missing rural Valparaiso resident
Lorraine Kirkley. Since the 34-year-old nurse disappeared from her home July
21, the Sheriff's Department has been searching for her body in fields
and wooded areas.
Their searches would have gone quicker if the department had officers
on horses. Horses can easily travel at 4 mph for six to eight hours. And the
officers would have had a better view from atop the horses.
Eventually, the mounted division may be split into two parts, one for
law enforcement operations like searches, and the other for ceremonial
purposes like parades.
"I see it being beneficial," Sears said. "I guess right now the