By Tamas Mondovics
Getting acquainted with some of the local law enforcement special units that patrol the communities is never a bad idea.
Riverview, Progress Village and Palm River area residents had a chance to do just that last month as they had a chance to get up close and personal with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Enforcement Team.
“The team focused on helping with traffic enforcement in the area, making sure drivers were wearing their seat belts and abiding by the posted speed limits, just to name a few,” said HCSO spokesperson, Cristal Bermudez.
Formed in the late 1980’s, the team consisted of eight members with security as its main function, at the time working at East Lake Mall and University Mall during the holidays.
While the Sheriff’s Office supplies riding equipment and miscellaneous items as needed, the unit today is a part-time specialty team with six law enforcement members, a team leader and an assistant team leader.
Each member uses their own personal horse and incurs most expenses out of their own pocket.
The team trains once a month at different locations, generally consisting of equitation, obstacles, sensory, defensive tactics, formation riding, crowd control maneuvers and horse care.
Deputies also patrol the Brandon Mall during the holidays and are also utilized during special events such as concerts, football games, neighborhood community days, school demonstrations, Law Enforcement Memorials, the Gasparilla Parade, Guavaween, Superbowls and all crowd control events as needed.
“Horses are an effective crowd control tool due to the height advantage, high visibility and excellent maneuverability,” Bermudez said. “They are valuable in patrolling areas inaccessible by vehicles and can cover a far greater area than foot patrols. Our Mounted Enforcement Team has been a part of our agency for over 20 years and we believe it has a solid future in law enforcement.”
For more information about the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Enforcement Team, visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us. or www.hcso.tampa.fl.us/A-Z-Directory/M/Mounted-Unit.aspx.