The Winona County Sheriff’s Department is on the lookout for new people to join the county’s Mounted Posse.

The Mounted Posse is a group of volunteers and their horses trained to help with finding missing people and with other emergency situations, in addition to helping with community festivities. Some situations that the posse can occasionally be seen in include parades, parking and funerals where they are requested to participate in the procession.

“We couldn’t do some of the stuff we do without the volunteers,” lead deputy Jeff Mueller said.

Numbers have dropped over the years on how many people have been interested and able to become members of the posse. Currently, there are only eight members, while in the posse’s earlier years there were about 20 members.

The Mounted Posse is shared with other local counties for emergency situations.

It is similar to other volunteer search teams that the county has created, including SOAR and the Dive Rescue Team, but the use of horses sets it apart.

The use of the animals allows members to see scenes from a better, higher view, enabling them to possibly see missing people with a greater speed and clarity.

The leader of the Mounted Posse is former sheriff Dave Brand, who organized the posse in the beginning years of his time in office starting in 1998. He noted the posse is important because it is another tool to help find those missing as soon as possible.

To join the posse, those interested must be older than 18 years old, own their own horse and trailer, live locally and be available to respond when needed. If someone is employed, it is important that they put their employment first, but attempt to help when available.

Once people apply, they will be interviewed by at least two people and a local criminal background check will be conducted.

If accepted through this part of the process, their horse will begin to be tested to determine whether they are easily startled. This is key to be qualified, as the horse and its rider will be expected to be around loud crowds and possibly sirens from emergency vehicles, along with other sudden motions and sounds. Tests including attempting to walk over a bridge, having an umbrella opened close by and having the tin cans following them as the horses move.

The horses and rider need to go through a certification process before being able to join the posse. They will go through training each month and receive uniforms and some equipment.

The Winona County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse is a part of the Minnesota Sheriff’s Mounted Posse Association.

If interested in joining the Mounted Posse, stop in at the Winona County Sheriff’s Department office for an application or call 507-457-6368 for more information.

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