Posse a Valuable Addition for City of Escondido

Following is an excerpt from an article published in the Escondido Times Advocate on March 5, 1973.

During the annual Escondido Valley Riders horse show in 1948 Harold Boyle, a member of that organization, contacted Escondido Police Chief Arlo F. Buford and suggested the possibility of organizing a police posse. The chief stated he was wholeheartedly in accord.

On a later date, Buford met with Boyle, Dick Gelsbright and J. B. “Pat” Patterson. They agreed that in cases of emergency within the city of Escondido, when it was necessary that the police department have additional assistance in the apprehension of a criminal or assistance in a possible disaster, a police posse would be very beneficial to the community.

The posse held its first meeting in the old Escondido fire station on June 17, 1948. This was an organization meeting and consisted of 11 members. They elected Dick Gelsbright as their first captain and J. B. Patterson as their first lieutenant. The posse’s first flag and standard were supplied by the Escondido Chamber of Commerce on July 26, 1948.

Almost immediately, the posse began to participate in parades in San Diego County and soon gained a very good reputation for their appearance and riding ability. The horses were closely matched and all the saddles and other gear were exactly alike. In addition, they spent many hours on weekends practicing for parades.

The group went on a work schedule with the department, furnishing at least one man for four hours a night on weekends to ride second man in a police unit. This was a welcome addition to the regular police officers as we had only 12 regulars at that time.

On September 1, 1950, one of the regular police officers left the department on military leave of indefinite duration, and it was necessary to hire another man to take his place. Lloyd Mitchell, then police chief, came up with the idea of replacing the one man with the Police Posse. They would furnish one man seven hours a night, seven nights a week. The organization would receive pay for one beginning patrolman. The money would go into their treasury for parades and other activity expenses.

Mitchell presented the idea to the posse and the members accepted. They gained the distinction of being the only paid working police posse in the United States. They served in this capacity until 1953.

As mentioned earlier, the posse developed an excellent reputation for their appearance and riding ability and they are in demand all over Southern California as well as the Silver Spurs Rodeo Parade in Yuma, Arizona, where they are generally met and welcomed by the governor of that state and at the Helldorado Days parade in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The posse is still very much involved in police work in our community. The membership is 13 at the present time and each member is required to work a four-hour shift each month.

They work much more, however. As a prerequisite for becoming a permanent member, each office must attend the San Diego Sheriff’s Reserve Academy twice a week for six months where training is given in all phases of law enforcement. The posse officers also receive in-service training at the police department, such as firearms training. Every member must qualify on the firing range each quarter.

In addition to the regular shifts, they assist in special events requiring additional police officers for crowd and traffic control. During 1972, the posse assisted in this function for 32 football games and other special activities at five stadiums with a total of ninety additional man days worked.

The posse is a well-trained organization both in police work and parades, having nothing in mind but service to the community and the advertisement of the city.

It is comforting to know that we have an organization we can call on at any time to assist the police department in many ways and we know they will respond.