This is a collateral duty. Assigned officers are called to action when necessary.
The Fresno County Sheriff's Office Mounted Patrol Unit was established in March of 1997. The original personnel makeup of the unit consisted of one full time sergeant and four reserve deputies. Much of the unit's early activity was centered on patrolling specific areas including but not limited to Avocado lake and Courthouse Park.
In addition to the 40-hour course previously mentioned, many hours of training take place every month to ensure both the riders and horses skills are kept sharp. Along with maintaining basic horsemanship skills, sensory training is paramount. Sheriff's Office horses are consistently exposed to objects and sounds they may encounter while out in public. Items commonly introduced into the horse's environment for training purposes include balloons, barricades, tarps and tents, flags, fireworks and loud noises such as sirens and sound systems.
All personnel assigned to the unit are required to pass a 40-hour P.O.S.T.-certified training class, showing proficiency in conducting law enforcement activities from horseback. After successfully completing the course, and passing an evaluation with the unit Sergeant, riders are allowed to patrol with their equine partners.
Typical mounted patrol assignments include proactive work at County parks such as Skaggs Bridge, Lost Lake, Avocado Lake and Courthouse Park. Unit members may also be assigned to patrol County islands and related areas including Sunnyside, Old Fig Garden and Tarpey Village. More specialized assignments might include working events with large numbers of people, searching for lost persons, and serving in protocol functions not limited to parades and dignitary protection.
The unit serves a very special function as an ambassador of the Sheriff's Office to the citizens of Fresno County. Unit members and their horses visit schools, public functions and neighborhood meetings to talk about safety and explain how the mounted unit can be a valuable tool in fighting crime.