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Column: Posse makes positive difference in county

Being an avid enthusiast of the “Old West,” when a sheriff speaks of his “Posse,” it harkens me back to the 1880s where I visualize dusty, grizzled volunteers sitting astride their horses awaiting the opportunity to assist the sheriff in running down another low down, no-account outlaw.

In those days, the sheriff often times could not do his job effectively without courageous volunteers willing to assist. The same could be said for today.

Volunteers are still an integral part of any public safety organization’s efforts to thwart crime, and they are essential to those public safety organizations who wish to implement and sustain the philosophies of community-oriented policing or problem-oriented policing.

In today’s world, those philosophies are an organization-wide management approach that promotes strategic partnerships and collaborations between community members, government officials, private groups, individuals and law enforcement. By creating volunteer opportunities for citizens through our organization, we empower them to make a positive difference in their communities by working with us to proactively fight crime, reduce fear, and address community public safety issues that will generally improve the quality of life for the citizens we serve.

Sound familiar? These are the same strategies our 1880s sheriff employed minus the formality of academic jargon.

Although today’s Goodhue County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse might differ slightly in appearance from the 1880s predecessor, members’ mission and value to the Sheriff’s Office has not.

The Goodhue County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse we know today was formed in the mid-1960s as a non-profit organization with the important mission of acting as a civilian reserve force for the sheriff. Today’s posse member will still perform most of their duties from horse back, and they will be asked to patrol at large scale events such as President Obama’s 2011 visit to Cannon Falls or annually at our county fair. At times, they have also assisted us in the preservation of a crime scene or assisted our Patrol Division with traffic control during a countywide bicycle race.

They are perhaps most widely known however for the part they play in the Sheriff’s Office’s public relations campaign through their numerous and impressive parade appearances in community celebrations throughout the county all year round.

Amazingly, they fulfill all of their duties at little or no expense to the taxpayer by absorbing all the costs associated with going to and from incidents or events themselves and volunteering their time in lieu of asking for compensation.

Posse members provide their own horse, tack, truck and trailer, and they are outfitted with uniforms and other equipment needed for their work paid for by funds they raise during creative events such as their upcoming raffle and dinner Sept. 21 at the Goodhue County Fairgrounds in Zumbrota. A $100 donation will get you a ticket to this event and will provide you two wonderful prime rib dinners, beverages and a chance at great raffle prizes to include a shot at winning a 2013 Ford Fiesta or $8,000 in cash. There will be silent auctions and other raffle opportunities for great prizes as well, and all the proceeds go to support the Goodhue County Fair and our Goodhue County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse.

If you’re interested in fun and supporting a great organization such as the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, please feel free to contact Hermann Von Knobelsdorf at 651-267-2809 or Cal Fulton at 651-764-3578 to obtain tickets.

We’d love to see you at the fairgrounds in Zumbrota on the evening of Sept. 21, and we promise to broom the dust off of our more grizzled posse members prior to the festivities beginning.