The Richland County Sheriff’s Posse was formed in 1994 by a group of horsemen from the Lower Richland area. The purpose was to establish a group of riders that would be available to the Sheriff’s Department when mounted searches would be advantageous. The group now consists of members from numerous counties throughout the state. Within a short time after formation, two things became clear:

1. Due to liability and trust considerations, the Sheriff’s Department was unlikely to call on a loosely formed unit with no set standards and

2. A search is almost never performed only on horseback, usually some coverage will need to be done on foot.

For these reasons, training standards were set and a training program began to form that recognized the need for non-mounted participants as well as personnel on all terrain vehicles. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we looked at other well-established search and rescue units, both ground-based and mounted, and tried to incorporate the best aspects from all of these into our program. We realized that building a good reputation takes time, but destroying it can be done almost immediately. We sought to develop a team that could use both foot and mounted search members while specifically keeping in mind that we are a mounted organization.

Training sessions for the posse are held weekly, rain or shine, and incorporate subjects such as search techniques, first aid, pubic relations, tracking, wilderness survival, evidence handling, equine first aid, compass use and navigation, radio communications, rope-work and rappelling, as well as working with search aircraft and tracking dogs. This training not only increases our level of proficiency and confidence, but also increases our ability to concentrate on the job when distractions arise.

We utilize written as well as hands-on testing procedures to evaluate ourselves. With this in mind we currently maintain and are constantly adding to a library of information that is available to our members. We also have available to us information, research, and testing materials from search and rescue units throughout the United States and Canada.

Our members have attended nationally certified search and rescue training courses, first aid and CPR courses, as well as classes taught in-house by members with specialized training in specific areas. As we are all volunteers, the members that are able to attend these seminars and receive certification, return and share their experiences and information with the rest of the group. We also encourage outside instructors to come and share their knowledge with us.

There are several levels of membership in our organization: probationary status, training level status, associate membership, and qualified mounted. Joining the team is initiated through an application and interview process. Each step has criteria that must be met before advancing. The types of persons that are encouraged to join are team players who also possess leadership abilities, this means that a person is equally capable of both giving and following orders. They must be patient, because search and rescue work can sometimes be quite tedious; they must be caring, because occasionally they will have to deal with a victim’s family and friends. There are numerous other qualities and considerations, but we must always remember, the whole is more important than the one and we always strive to improve the team.

Qualified teams, containing mounted and ground personnel are chosen as if their lives or the victim’s lives depend on their performance, because they may.


Posse Training Requirements

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5623 Two Notch Road 
Columbia, South Carolina 29223 
(803) 576-3000 phone (803) 576-3195 fax

Copyright © 2006 Richland County Sheriff's Department