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KIOWA COUNTY FORMING SHERIFF’S POSSE

By Betsy Barnett

2021-09-29 16:43:39

It’s not a new idea. In the 1960s and into the 1980s the Kiowa County Sheriffs were supported by a group of volunteers who were dedicated to provide assistance to the Sheriff’s office in matters of public safety.

These individuals formed their own group and elected leadership who in turn communicated with the Sheriff’s Office whenever there was a need.

Sheriff Gene Kelley, who served twice in Kiowa County as the elected Sheriff, first from 1945-1963 and then in another stint from 1967 to 1975 was the first Sheriff to form a Kiowa County Sheriff’s Posse during his second stint as Sheriff.  Larry Watts, who served from 1975 to 1979 and Floyd Griswould, who was the Sheriff from 1979 to 1983 both also utilized an active Sheriff’s Posse.

Griswould said, “Kiowa County Sheriff Gene Kelley was needing more eyes on the street and didn’t have the funds budgeted for more deputies.  In fact, he had no paid deputies or patrol on the street.”

The current Kiowa County Sheriff, Forrest Frazee who is serving as interim Sheriff until the election in 2022, is in much the same boat as his counterpart some 60 years ago.

Frazee stated, “There’s many reasons I want to be able to utilize a Sheriff’s Posse once again.  It was successful back during the Kelley, Watts and Griswould years and now we have basically the same issues that Gene had a long time ago.  We have many ongoing needs that just can’t be covered by the small staff that we currently have.  Regulations and the amount of traffic and crime coming through Kiowa County is on the rise, and we need to be able to directly address those issues.  With a Sheriff’s Posse, we can get support for many duties that we currently have to do now that anyone with a little training can successfully manage.”

Frazee, like his counterparts of years gone by, would utilize the new volunteer posse members across the county for jobs such as search and rescue, guarding various buildings, attending to animal calls, locked car calls, transport calls, dealing with weather issues, crime scene security, special events and parades, citizen patrol, fire calls and an array of other duties as assigned.

Frazee wants to organize the new posse much like they did a half century ago.  The posse members would be volunteer only. Frazee adds, “Much like the Fire Department personnel are today.”

They would not have arrest authority, but they would have equipment issued to them.  They would have to be screened.  And the Kiowa County SO would train them. 

Frazee sees the organizational structure much as Command is done now.  “There would be a Commander who would be in control of the entire unit and that is who we would request for services to.  They would also have a Lieutenant and a Sargant who would help the Commander with duties.  Those individuals would be the main hierarchy for the new organization.”

Frazee said that both Bent County and Prowers County have organized their own Sheriff Posses in the last few years.  “They are organized well, and the program has been a huge assist for those departments. I believe they have 15-20 posse members.” 

Frazee indicated that just recently in Bent County the posse helped to secure a perimeter when the law enforcement had to hit a house that turned out to be a drug house.  “The posse would not do the work of a trained police officer, but rather would be support for the officers.  In this case they secured the perimeter while the law enforcement hit the house.”

The Bent County Sheriff’s Posse uses bicycles and horses as well as cars for patrol.  A statement on their website as far as training opportunities go reads, “The members of the Sheriff’s Posse participate in training to learn the different skills needed by law enforcement officers. The mounted unit train and practices horsemanship skills, mounted law enforcement techniques, and ranch skills. The horses used in the mounted unit are owned by the members of the Posse. All members of the Sheriff’s Posse have the opportunity to learn law enforcement skills; some of these skills are arrest control techniques, traffic control, report writing, and methods for searching for evidence or people.”

 

Frazee also sites the geographic size of the county as being problematic for his SO.  He would like to definitely have some Posse volunteers who reside on both ends of the County.  “They could then take up a lot of the calls and the time needed to get to the east or west ends.” 

Details of the formation of the Kiowa County Sheriff’s Posse is being advertised for the next month.  Frazee hopes to get as many volunteers as he can.  He’s looking for capable men and women to be trained. 

Griswould agreed that there needs to be people from different demographics as part of the posse, “We had three female posse members back in the 1980s and they always went with a police officer when transporting a female prisoner.”

Griswould also indicated that he used a school trainee program working with older students from the Eads and Plainview high schools.  “But, we only utilized the high school kids within the office duties.”

At any rate, it is obvious that there is a lot of work that is done daily by the Sheriff and his deputies.  In examining their Bi-Weekly reports it is clear that there are a number of areas that could be effectively covered by a trained, volunteer posse member. 

Frazee is anxious to make this program work and encourages anyone with questions to contact him at the Sheriff’s Office at 719-438-5411.

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