“Unfortunately, I had to be the sheriff after 163 years to say, ‘We don’t have a Mounted Posse anymore,’” said Sheriff Chad Jensen during the Cache County Council meeting on Sept. 10.
In recent years, Jensen said the Mounted Posse worked primarily in Search and Rescue, but when technological advances changed the nature of searches, the Mounted Posse then became something of a philanthropic group. Jensen said they raised thousands of dollars through donations and fundraisers — like the Posse Burger concession stand at the county fair — and then donated to various charities in Cache Valley.
“That’s been a great organization,” Jensen said to the council. “We just can’t get the membership anymore.”
After losing the posse, Jensen said the Cache County Sheriff’s Office instead boosted their Explorer program — a Scouting program that allows kids aged 14 to 20 to survey a potential career in law enforcement — by allowing the Posse Burger concession stand to be utilized by the Explorer Program this past summer.
“It was a hit,” Jensen said to the council.
Jensen said the program — funded in part by fundraisers like Posse Burger — is moving in the direction of giving scholarships to Explorers who want to attend the Police Academy, effectively creating a home-grown hiring pool for the Sheriff’s Office.
Patrol Administration Sgt. Reed Tanner, who has been involved with instructing and recruiting for the Explorer Program for the past four years, said while general turnover is low, the Sheriff’s Office loses employees when they retire. The hope is the Explorers, comprised of around 20 members, will progress to fill some of those spots as they open.
“We would have a group of people who are better trained to start with,” Tanner said, “and they’re people that we’ve gotten to know very well in the Explorer Program.”
Tanner said the Sheriff’s Office brings in instructors from several different disciplines to work with the Explorers. They get to try their hand in police defensive tactics, firearms training, K-9s and drug recognition.
“We kind of run it like a mini-police academy,” Tanner said.
As well as assisting with community events, Explorers are frequently used as suspect or victim roleplayers in deputy training scenarios. Tanner said this trains both the deputies and the Explorers.
“It’s by far the most effective way to train our deputies,” Tanner said. “I bet I’ve used them for five or six different scenario trainings this month.”
Jacob Anderson, 18, who has been a member of the Explorer Program for the past year and a half, said he enjoys the opportunity to learn from scenario training. But one of his favorite parts of the Explorer Program are the ride-alongs.
“Sitting eight hours in a car might not sound fun to a lot of people,” Anderson said with a laugh. “It’s a good time — you learn lots.”
Tanner said Explorers get to learn about respect, empathy and fairness, along with cultivating an appreciation for what police officers do day-to-day — even if some of them don’t continue to become law enforcement officers.
“That’s OK, too — we’re totally fine with that,” Tanner said. “I know for sure that all of them will go away with a very good opinion of law enforcement, and what we’re all about.”
For information about joining the Explorer Program, visit joincachesheriff.org/explorers.