Shoppers in Pasco County have a little extra security during this last minute shopping rush, and it’s a throwback of sorts.
Sampson is not a Clydesdale, but a Percheron.
The horse is the largest badge-wearing member of the Pasco sheriff’s office.
The mounted posse led by Deputy John Bushell provide added security for shoppers during the holiday season.
“What the sheriff has found out is when we are out here, they have zero crime. If a bad guy is going to come into the parking lot, they can see us. We can see them better. We can see over all the tops of the cars. We can see everything that’s going on. So it’s a tremendous deterrent for crime,” said Bushell.
Without much crime to deal with, the horses turn into an attraction, for young and old.
“Normally during the holidays in the parking lot, you find a lot of grouchy people. Not this year! I haven’t found the first grouchy person yet,” she Bushell.
“We live in the country, so we see horses, but we really don’t see the police on horses. I think it’s a great thing,” said shopper Nathan Walbridge.
The posse doesn’t just ride around malls. They also patrol neighborhoods all over Pasco County, and they often have more success than marked units when it comes to getting information.
“When I leave the neighborhood, I know where every drug house is, where every criminal is... And most importantly, I know every problem in that community, because people tell us,” said Bushell.
Bushell said these horses chase down bad guys when called upon.
“The really neat thing about that is when I catch ‘em. They’re tired and I’m not,” he said.
The deputies and volunteers who ride in the mounted posse own their horses, so they cover the expenses of caring for them.