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Valleywide Focus

Riders for Mounted Park Patrols Sought

April 30, 1993|JILL LEOVY

Los Angeles County is recruiting volunteers with horses to bolster the ranks of mounted patrol units and enforce new user fees on county trails.

Mounted assistance units are posses of volunteers, both reserve and auxiliary officers, who control crowds at carnivals and patrol beaches and pathways in county parks.

Thirteen volunteers now spend a minimum of two weekend days a month patrolling parks on their own horses without pay, telling people to pour out bottles of beer and keeping people from swimming where they are not allowed.

Judy Musslyn, a reserve officer who, with her husband, Tom, spends several days a month conducting mounted patrols, said the job is more recreation than work. "It's a way to do good with something you like doing," she said.

Since their inception six years ago, the patrols have been so successful that the county safety police, a group of commissioned peace officers working for the Department of Parks and Recreation, are considering adding at least one commissioned officer on horseback.

Safety Police Officer Al Lawrence said officials also want to double the number of volunteer patrols in the north county area, while safety police in south Los Angeles County are looking to start new units.

The volunteers will be issued citation books so that they can begin enforcing new trail fees.

The Board of Supervisors in March approved $6 fees on hikers, bikers and horseback riders for up to three days of trail use, and a $23 fee for a yearly permit.

Safety Police Sgt. Steve William Fraijo said that at first, people who don't pay will receive warnings. "We will educate first," he said.

The volunteer patrols are also being used to supplement police forces that have dwindled due to budget cuts, said Manuel Cisneros, north region chief of the safety police.

"You get someone on a 2,000-pound horse, people do respect them. And it's a fantastic public relations tool," he said.

For information on joining mounted units, call (805) 257-0881.

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