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Letter to the Editor: A Hidden Gem of the Sheriff's Office

A reader speaks out on the Mounted Patrol Unit of the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office.


One of the topics mentioned recently is the much lessened gang activity. Reasons given included the consequences of the recession on industry and therefore the movement of illegal immigrants to more lucrative areas. No one mentioned the effect that the Mounted Patrol Unit [of the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office] has had on the gangs.

The Mounted Patrol Unit can access places that cars, trucks, even bicycles are unable to access. Once they began patrolling the areas where gangs gathered, the gangs dispersed. The gangs now gather on the other side of the Buford Dam area outside the jurisdiction of the Mounted Patrol Unit.

The Mounted Patrol Unit costs approximately $15,000 per year to run. They actually built their facility with their own hands; they take care of the horses themselves.

I would urge you to take a look at what $15,000 a year buys Forsyth County.

They are able to go into areas of woodlands to look for alleged criminals and lost people in a way that no vehicle can. 

They go into schools and speak with and take the horses to interact with children who otherwise would have no positive contact with law enforcement.

In 1995 Wyatt Web discovered the emotional connection between horses and emotionally dysfunctional youths. Humans are the ultimate predator and horses are the ultimate prey, yet there is an unmistakable connection, which is now being used for PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] victims.

  • They teach trail riding safety classes to adults.
  • The horses are highly trained for crowd control and each horse is more efficient than two men in crowd controlling situations. (See the use of horses during the riots in London and other European cities.)

It has been argued that the need for the Mounted Patrol Unit is no longer necessary since there is a decline in criminal activities in areas where the unit patrols. I would argue that it is worth $15,000 and more to keep the gangs out of Forsyth.

It saddens me that one of the candidates running for sheriff wants to close down the unit and lose all the gain they have made with the gangs and the children at risk in Forsyth County.

Thank you for reading this,

Debra Selinger

For more information about the Mounted Patrol Unit, call Sgt. Eric Silveus at 770-205-4544 or via e-mail.

Editor's Note: The opinion(s) expressed here are those of the writer and not of Cumming Patch. If you have something to share send liz.kennedy@patch.com a "Letter to the Editor" for publication consideration.

Linda Sue July 12, 2012 at 07:47 PM
The Mounted Patrol is a great asset to the Forsyth County force. Our neighborhood Civic Affairs Committee held an event to profile our terrific community resources back when Woody Woodward was involved. I have witnessed the reaction of citizens when the Mounted Patrol officers are present. The good will created, the natural attraction to the horses, their ability to access tight quarters as well as areas around Lake Lanier, the higher vantage point of the mounted officers, etc. all add up to money well spent. We love the Mounted Patrol.
SOGTP July 12, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Horses are used for crowd control during riots. That is their value. There is no value for horses in Forsyth. Get ATV's.
resident July 12, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Since when is Cumming comparable to "other European Cities"? I also had no idea that gang members are scared of horses, lol. Seems like someone is really straining to justify 15,000 of tax payer's money.
Linda Sue July 12, 2012 at 09:49 PM
With all due respect, an officer cannot possibly see from the same vantage point on an ATV.
Kevin Anthony July 13, 2012 at 02:41 AM
The department also has ATVs plus a myriad of many other toys. In addtion to the supposedly $15,000 to fund the mounted patrol, there was in excess of $100K spent from drug seizure funds spent to support the "Mounted Patrol" last year. As Bill said - "get" ATVs - they don't need DVMs to take care of them like horses require.
John Coffman July 13, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I have personally worked with mounted patrol units during high density crowd situations and I can tell you that they are invaluable in such an environment. They are much more effective at moving a crowd (during the Christmas parade for example) than several uniformed policemen would be.
Patrick Apoian July 13, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Horses are an asset to law enforcement. Just because you do not understand how they are used does not make them a waiste of tax payer money.
Georgia Cowboy July 13, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Yes the the sheriffs office did spend more on the mounted unit last year to prevent future costs, from my understanding last years cost included construction of a new barn, replacing a vehicle and purchasing a tractor. I personally ride both ATVs and horses and i have ridden a horse more places than I could take an ATV. I know first hand you can see a lot farther from a horse as I have used my horses many time searching for down livestock.
Linda Sue July 13, 2012 at 02:34 PM
The higher vantage point for the mounted officers is just one point, but it seems to be lost on those with a different agenda, as is the argument that some things are not meaured by price tags. A community is made up of many folks with independent judgement. Thankfully, we have the right to vote.
SOGTP July 13, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Linda Sue - that is farcical pablum that you are told. The horses exist as a re election tool for Sheriff Paxton. He likes them and believes people will respect him if he stables horses. They are almost absolutely useless unless you are in a dense urban area needing to control crowds. That's why they have a huge horse department in New York City and few in small towns. Ted keeps them for personal reasons. The full time people maintaining the stables are paid for by the taxpayer.
Urban Cowgirl July 13, 2012 at 09:50 PM
I swear too many folks today are just too" short sighted”. Keeping a few Mounted Patrol handy for a little bit of money a year is good business. 15,000 dollars a year divided between all the taxpayers in this county is just pennies apiece! Yes often times there are unexpected expenses with horses no different than with our children. When a river floods the roads or any other natural disaster occurs it is the horses and the hounds that can readily get to the areas inaccessible by motor vehicles. That’s right, it hasn’t happened yet! I’ll be voting for the candidate that plans for the “unseen” even if it is a romantic idea! It’s a small part of The Charm left to this relatively still rural community.
Linda Sue July 13, 2012 at 10:13 PM
My politics have nothing to do with my considered opinion, since my experience with the Mounted Patrol goes back 10 years. I think educated people of a certain age are capable of knowing the difference between 'farcical pablum' & personal rationale. Those who sometimes exhibit dogmatic opinions (in this case I use the word as: "...a statement of a point of view as if it were an established fact.") are certainly entitled to them. We simply disagree.
Linda Sue July 13, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Amen. "Value" is indeed the relative worth, merit, or importance of something, so the value of the mounted patrol remains a subjective assessment. I love your use of the word "charm" (sorry, but I teach SAT prep) and this topic seems to be a personal one.
SOGTP July 14, 2012 at 10:28 AM
JustGing - the reason the county is safe is due to the moral make up of the people that live here. The Sheriff's Department has some impact, but if you look at high crime areas they also have many law enforcement personnel. They are still unsafe places to live and they have highly trained law enforcement personnel. It is the make up of the people that live around you that keep you safe.
SOGTP July 14, 2012 at 10:30 AM
If it is such a good idea, tell me how many other counties do this for the perceived benefit you claim. Or is it a luxury because we are a highly taxed county and the Sheriff's budget is nearly 41% of the entire counties budget.
Kevin Anthony July 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Bottom line - when the Sheriff tells the public at the first debate that the department only spent $11,000 last year, he perfectly knew that was a bold face lie. Why did he not come out with the total amount he spent? Is he afraid of the truth? The "truth" will set you free. A Sheriff lying to the people who pay for his department is not something I can tolerate as a vote and taxpayer.
JustGing July 14, 2012 at 01:29 PM
There's No other county I'd rather live. I've lived in many all over the US. Grew up in Tucker, left for The Military at 18, and just moved back to GA 6 years ago. In the many places I've lived, Forsyth is By Far the Safest. So whatever theyre doing and have done-It works to our benefit as citizens. I'm a great big fan of Forsyth County Sheriffs Department. It could be Soo much worse and am so grateful and blessed that it is Not.
resident July 14, 2012 at 08:16 PM
If it were allowed to public vote I would still say no to the horses.. At least I can vote against a Sheriff with a mistress and a baby. Forsyth needs to have a sheriff's office that is willing to be more transparent financially and ethically than what it currently is.
Kevin Anthony July 15, 2012 at 05:00 PM
And how much did the Sheriff cost the taxpayer when he was drunk and his mistress called 911 because he finished off two bottles while watching his son by her? The county dispatched EMTs, free will Sheriff's cars, and I am sure a few "dignataries". He is out of control emotionally and financially on his job and we are suppose to overlook this? HOGWASH. Three terms for ANY elected office is more than enough!
Magnolia T. July 16, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Please get rid of the Sherrif but keep the horse he rode in on. We need to have accessible and professional police, the major growth in this county has not eended. Scaling up not back should be the priority.
Bill Richey July 19, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Interesting opinions, however, most are missing the real mark. The cost of the mounted unit at $15,000 per annum is not relevant considering the cost of a police car to both purchase and maintain. Believing you will save FCSO money by getting rid of the cost of the horses and replacing them with a couple $45,000 cars and then insuring, maintaining and fueling these cars. Simple math will tell you that the fifteen grand is all but irrelevant. The fact is, it will cost you over $100,000 in the first year of replacing the "expensive" fifteen thousand dollars horses. Now let's move on to the real "meat" of the matter. The true benefit of the horses is about crime prevention. Even simple crimes that require arrest actually cost thousands of dollars. Between the arresting officers time, the transporting officers time, the time (even a little) in jail all costs. But that is not where the cost ends. The time for the district attorneys’ office to review the case, the judges time in the courtroom, the DA's time in court all add up. And, let's not forget about the cost of the building and their maintenance and all the support that goes into the jails and courts.... oh, and let’s not forget the vehicles that transport the prisoners to and fro.
Bill Richey July 19, 2012 at 11:50 PM
If you think I am finished... wrong. One of the benefits of your horse cops is public relations, especially with the younger people. When a police officer comes to school to speak to a group of kids about Stranger Danger programs or DARE, they will typically lose their audience in a matter of minutes. Hoever, on a horse, outside, the same officer can hold their attention much longer and stand a better chance of having the information stick in the child’s mind.... With that said, how better can time be spent teaching you children about drugs, strangers, etc? Let me go on a bit further. If the first contact a child has with a police officer is petting a horse, how much better do you think that is than first contact with the police taking a parent to jail AND, how will that affect the rest of their lives regarding the police. Horses are calming and soothing by nature to both children and adults alike. Getting rid of your mounted patrol is not the answer, fact is, keeping them is part of the solution.
Linda Sue July 20, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I agree with your comments & with those of the others who endorse the use of the mounted patrol, for so many 'human' reasons. Ohers have a different perspective, but I believe that looking below the surface at the bigger picture is always more enlightened. Value is a subjective thing...cost is literal & does not tell the whole story.

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