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  • Horse patrols add cheer and safety

    first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champThe posse members – with 11 horses, some sporting Santa hats, reindeer antlers and bells – are ambassadors with badges. In addition to being a security measure, the mounted patrol adds to the mall’s festive atmosphere during the holidays, said Jalina Warner, the mall’s marketing director. “It’s an amenity to the customer,” she said. Vic Monroe, a two-year volunteer with the posse, gives kids candy canes from a stocking hanging from his saddle. “We are doing this for the community,” said Monroe, who lives in Castaic. His horse, Skip, a 13-year-old chestnut Appaloosa, doesn’t flinch when kids stand close and pet him. Horse and rider receive event-specific training to get them acclimated to sudden noises and movements. If the mounted patrols spot anything suspicious, they immediately notify nearby deputies. Posses help prevent crime because riders are sitting up on that high vantage point, said Peter Burnstein, who oversees the seven posses, 30 sworn officers and 100 civilian volunteers with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “We are so visible that the bad guys watch their steps and stay away,” Burnstein said. Although they are large animals, horses have a calming effect on people. When he rides in a patrol car, Burnstein said, gang members will usually avoid law enforcement. All that changes when he is on his horse, a 13-year-old gelding named Ranger. “I will have gangbangers ask me politely, `Can I pet your horse?”‘ Burnstein said. In addition to patrolling shopping malls, posse members participate in parades, ceremonies, funerals, search and rescue, and crowd control. Lynn Barrow, an eight-year volunteer with the Santa Clarita posse, says being at the mall is a chance for kids to see the softer side of police work. Barrow and her 19-year-old mare, Missy, are easy to spot and hear with those matching green bells around their necks. During this shopping season, they make sure packages and cars aren’t stolen. They have helped at least 10 shoppers find their cars at shopping malls in Valencia and Palmdale, Barrow said. “We are just keeping everyone safe for the holidays,” she said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VALENCIA – Five-year-old Clarissa Sitko was on her way to visit Santa Claus at Westfield Valencia Town Center until she spotted a horse. So much for Santa. Clarissa forgot all about the jolly old man for a few minutes so she could pet one of the horses in the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s station’s reserve and volunteer posse. The horses and their riders have been patrolling the mall during the holiday season. “I am not scared of horses,” said Clarissa, visiting from Las Vegas. “I like horses.” last_img