DANVILLE - The Danville Police Department has saddled up for a new patrol initiative that officers hope will bolster community relations and provide valuable resources for Knox County and the surrounding area.
In November 2016, the department took the step of becoming the first law enforcement agency in Knox County to establish a Mounted Patrol Unit that put two of its officers on horses. Corporal Lisa Lyons and Officer Kevin Henthorn began training under the guidance of Sgt. John Shoopman of the Columbus Police Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit and Officer Regina Shoopman of the Ohio State University Mounted Police. The duo will utilize their experience in many ways which could have benefits beyond the Knox County border. Lyons said the plan is to get the Joint Enforcement Team Search and Rescue (JETSTAR) operation off the ground and ready to deploy if the need arises.
Danville mounted patrol officer Kevin Henthorn, left, and Lisa Lyons - submitted photo
The two officers will also use their horseback experience for community outreach, patrol at parades and special events and can be used in escort details. A mounted officer can have advantages over a typical patrol unit, according to Lyons. An officer riding a horse can navigate terrain more quickly and efficiently, cutting response time. There are also benefits in situations with large crowds.
Police Chief Daniel Weckesser has been “100% on board” with the development of the mounted patrol, she said, adding that the unit is self-funded and adds “no extra financial burden” to the village budget. Lyons and Henthorn will continue to train with their mounts to learn different drills, obstacle familiarization, crowd control, subject control and many other tactics.