Teen volunteers join Arapahoe County’s new mounted patrol unit

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — For the first time in 30 years, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office will have deputies patrolling on horseback. 

The Mounted Unit will patrol parks, trails and participate in community outreach. It isn’t the horses that make ACSO’s unit unique, though. 

“One civilian will be riding with one deputy,” ACSO Lt. Rich Anselmi told FOX31.

The civilian volunteers will be able to interact with the public, walk in formation with the police horses and the riders will be responsible for holding and handling a deputy’s horse if he or she needs to dismount for any reason. 

Many of the volunteers are teenagers. 

“I said, well I want to use kids as young as 16 and [the department] said, ‘No way!’,” Anselmi said. 

Eventually, they agreed and now ACSO has six 16 and 17-year-olds ready to patrol.

“I’ve been a high school coach, I was an SRO, I’ve done a lot with kids so I know that kids who are 16, 17, 18 can handle themselves, make good decisions and some of them are very good riders,” Anselmi said. 

“It’s really cool to be so young and able to do this,” 16-year-old volunteer Clare said. 

The volunteers had to undergo rigorous training with their horses.

“We’re just getting them used to different things like smoke and gunfire, which hopefully we won’t have to be near,” 16-year-old volunteer Morgan said. 

According to Anselmi, both teen and adult volunteers will be kept on low-risk friendly patrols. There are currently no plans to deploy any mounted deputies or volunteers to crowd control situations. 

“Bad things can happen anywhere so it’s no different than leaving your house any day of the week,” 17-year-old volunteer Colton said. 

The program is meant to help further bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.