Sheriff's posse gains four members

Four new Carson City sheriff's reserve deputies will be riding in the name of the law - on horseback.

Rita Cannizzaro, Cathy Zarus, and John and Suzanne Ragsdale earned their Sheriff's Mounted Reserve Deputy badges Thursday evening at a small ceremony at the Carson City Jail.

The addition represents the culmination of months of horse, firearms, crowd control and search-and-rescue training. Mounted reserves now total 20 horse handlers, a formidable opponent for Carson City criminals.

Cannizzaro, who has been riding horses for 20 years - including three years in the Washoe County mounted reserve - said taxing exercises give the group and their horses an edge in unpredictable situations. Horses are put through a gamut of sensory exercises designed to spook them.

"The training with this group is astronomical," she said. "With the firecrackers and the smoke and the bridges, if the horses aren't ready when you start, they learn fast."

Mounted reserve deputies participate in crowd control at public events like parades and concerts, search and rescue operations and riding into inaccessible areas.

"They are an invaluable part of what we do," said Chief Sheriff's Deputy Scott Burau. "The service and dedication of these people is unbelievable."

The unit, coordinated by Carson City Sheriff's Deputy Tom Casey, runs on a budget of $1,000 a year and donations. Additional expenses come out of the pockets of the mounted reserve officers themselves.

Burau said being on horseback in crowds gives the officers an advantage over traditional vehicle and pedestrian patrols. "They can see more and they are more mobile," he said.

The advantage of training the horses to work in crowds is paramount when fireworks are involved, said Reserves Mounted Deputy Joe Bruno.

"When we are at the Ormsby House, the horses do great. And if you've ever heard the fireworks, you know that could spook a horse," he said.

Because their budget is limited and their expenses are many, the unit accepts donations which can be made to: Sheriff's Reserves Mounted Deputies, c/o The Carson City Sheriff's Department, 901 East Musser Street, Carson City.


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