SLTPD mountie goes North to Canada |

SLTPD mountie goes North to Canada

Gregory Crofton

Her three horses probably missed her while she was in Ontario riding with Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

It’s an honor many people think only for Canadians, but South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Rebecca Inman trained with the royal mounties for 17 days.

“I miss the high level of training,” she said. “I just want to click my heels and be back in Canada.”

Inman, an 8-year-veteran of South Lake Tahoe Police Department, returned Monday from the elite camp.

She was accepted from an international pool of applicants and, because of her experience and skill, was ranked second among 12 women chosen for the program. (The RCMP accepts 36 men for the seminar. The camp Inman attended is one of three held each year. Each camp accepts four women and 12 men).

Inman was also the only person allowed to train with the Musical Ride, a select group of the RCMP. Formed in 1887, the Ride performs around the world showcasing the control they have over their horses. Their black horse, bright red uniform and precise maneuvers create a spectacle.

“It’s almost like marching on horseback,” Inman said. “I was fortunate to get to ride with them.

Others in my crew were like ‘Why does she get to do that?’ “

The answer lies in experience. Inman has been riding horses since she was too young to remember, entering competitions at age 7, jumping at 13.

But with competitions a thing of the past, her focus these days has been on training horses to be a trusted partner in law enforcement.

“I don’t care if the horse is 20 years old, I like to see advancement by the horse and I Iike purposeful riding,” she said. “You train them, teach them and see them learn.”

Up north she learned things she can teach the rest of South Lake Tahoe Police Department’s mounted patrol unit.

And Officer Chuck Owens, founder and team leader of the mounted patrol, said he’s anxious to learn.

“Not only is it prestigious just to be asked, but I think her training is coming back and going to be a great value to us,” Owens said. “Rebecca took care of all of the costs and used two weeks vacation time. The dedication is outstanding.”

Owens, Inman and Officer Jeff Reagan are the only members of the horse patrol. In existence since 1994, the patrol operates from April to November except for a night of tumultuous work on New Year’s Eve.

“There’s nothing better than breaking up a fight on a horse,” Inman said. “As soon as they see you trotting up they break it up. They know they’re not going to win when it comes to a horse. You can see where the fights are. Being so high up, you can look down and catch everything.”

From May to December 2000, the unit issued 94 citations, 52 warnings and made three arrests.

Owens said other than dealing with the crowds at Stateline on July Fourth and New Years, the mounted patrol is most effective at Bijou Community Park and when looking for illegal campsites hidden in the woods around town.

“Every year our goal is to put horses on the street more than we did the year before, and increase the number of citations we issue,” Owens said. “Bottom line, we want to be more proactive.”

When their horses are not out breaking up brawls, they can be found at events such as the Fire Fest or the Carson Valley Parade.

Brad Bennett, chief of Police and Fire, said he sees the mounted officers as a way to open a line of communication with residents.

“We’re able to get close to the community,” Bennett said. “A lot of time it’s hard to do that in a patrol car. And kids love it. It’s a way to get around and show people we’re open and friendly.

“Having a horse hurt somebody could really be a problem, but these horses have all been really well trained.”

They are well trained. The officers spent 25 hours a month training their steed, which is 10 hours more than required by law.

“The point of the extra training is to minimize any threat of litigation against the city,” Owens said. “Consider the thousands of people we come in into contact with and we’ve never had a claim against a horse.”

Owens said the department’s mounted patrol doesn’t suck away manpower from the regular patrol force but instead puts more officers on the street.

All expenses created by the unit, such as maintenance of their horses, which are owned by the patrollers, and overtime, are funded by a state grant.

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