Horse-drawn carriages may be disappearing, but mounted posses are still used today in several sheriff’s offices and police forces throughout the country. Carver County has one as well, made up of volunteer horses and riders that patrol and assist where needed. And they, like many others, are always looking for more help.
“It’s not unlike a reserve, actually,” said Jason Kamerud, county sheriff. “They just do things from horseback most of the time versus other services in a reserve force.”
Carver County’s mounted posse has been around for decades, and has been volunteer-based for most of its life. The posse behaves more like a reserve force, according to Kamerud. When they aren’t on horseback, in fact, they still help out. Crime scene log-ins and log-outs are just one of those things. Otherwise, though, the main specialty is of course being on horseback.
There are a few advantages to this. For one, being on a horse makes the rider higher up, allowing them to see farther. In tall grasses during a search, for example, this is pretty essential. Horses also cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, and the rider doesn’t tire as easily during long patrols. You’ll usually see the posse on park patrol, since in Carver County that’s highest amount of ground to cover.
That doesn’t mean you won’t see them elsewhere, though. In fact, one of the most important aspects of the job to Kamerud is the community outreach.
“People are really interested in the posse and the horses,” he said. “People won’t come up to a walking deputy, but they walk right up to the horses and chat.”
The posse can be seen at parades as well as patrolling fairs such as the Carver County Fair. They even get called away for events like Windstock. The posse is also trained to handle things like crowd control, search parties, article searches, and much more. In Carver, though, most of the time they are patrolling parks since controlling a large crowd would be a rare event.
“It’s funny, if an ambulance needs to get somewhere people won’t move, but they’ll move for the horses,” said Kamerud. “You’d be surprised just how good they are at controlling a crowd.”
To become a part of the posse, both rider and horse have to go through extensive training. For starters, you need to have a horse, which is no small feat. Anyone who’s had a horse can tell you that buying the horse is the easiest part. It’s boarding it and caring for it that really presents a challenge. The horse itself has three steps of training from getting used to squad cars with their sirens on to running past burning barrels and getting used to gun fire. In other words, a skittish horse would have an incredibly difficult time with the training.
The rider also goes through training. Though they aren’t a licensed police officer, they still need to know some basics before joining a reserve. Knowing the rules of a citizen’s arrest, first aid, self-defense, and crime scene procedure are just a few things they need to know. And of course they need to be able to ride a horse, which includes being just as calm as the horse during those training sessions.
“It was amazing when I was trying it out,” said Kamerud. “The gunshots made me flinch, but the horse I was riding was completely still.”
The current posse has just over 10 volunteers, but they are always looking for more. Kamerud admitted that it’s a lot of work, but very worth it to the riders as many describe their experience as fulfilling. When they aren’t working hard, a few are also participating in posse competitions just to keep up the regiment.
And while there are always risks riding a horse and being a reserve, Kamerud stated that there isn’t any more risk than doing one or the other. The training is designed to help with this aspect as well, since a calm horse doesn’t pose much threat aside from stepping on their rider’s feet when getting prepped.
To apply, call the Sheriff’s office at 952-361-1212 or attend the monthly meeting that happens on the second Monday of each month.
“It’s not easy, but there’s a lot of resources and people willing to help you learn,” said Kamerud.