[gm tag=18 module=minima]HEMLOCK – More than a dozen riders with regional law enforcement congregated at the Hemlock Fair to test their bonds with their horses at the annual Livingston County Sheriff’s mounted competition on Wednesday.
A total of 15 horses and riders from Western New York Sheriff’s Offices, Police Departments, and the Governor General’s Horse Guards in Ontario tested their mettle by passing several obstacles and tests, including herding mock ‘protesters,’ pushing a cart, and getting their feet sprayed with a fire extinguisher. Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty said that besides being a great show for police and the public to enjoy, the competition highlights an essential component of law enforcement’s relationship with the community.
“People are quick to record negative experiences and say that all cops are bad,” said Sheriff Dougherty. “Are there bad cops? Absolutely, but 99 percent of them do an amazing job. To me, mounted patrol represents all the best about police and our Sheriff’s Office. The fairs, the demos, and the parades they do allow people to talk to and interact with a Deputy or police officer, and that helps us build trust. So when they say I’m always saying yes to their requests and that this is all because of me, it’s really all because of them and the work they are doing.”
Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Charlie Horst and his horse Heavy D came out on top for the overall competition, and was awarded a plaque and ribbon by Livingston County Sheriff Dougherty.
The contestants were:
With the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, Sergeant Ron Steen, Elizabeth (Bobbi) Mancuso, Melissa Means, and Chris Gernitz.
With the Governor’s Horse Guards, P.J. Van Auken and Andrew Zeltoun.
With the Rochester Police Department, Nina Nowack, Chris Picha, Sergeant Al Joseph, and Donald Urbanczyk.
With the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Charlie Horst.
With the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office, Jakie Copeland, Sonia Gazzetta, and Captain John Copeland.
The competition’s opening ceremony included a tribute and moment of silence in memory of Livingston County Court Judge Ron Cicoria, who had helped, supported, and judged the competition every year before his passing in January 2015.
Sergeant Gary Cicoria, Judge Cicoria’s brother and head of Livingston County’s mounted patrol, said that the Sheriff’s Office has been hosting the competition for 20 years at the Hemlock Fair, and before that he helped host it in downtown Rochester as part of the Rochester Police Department.
“It’s a good incentive for our guys and gals to train,” said Sergeant Cicoria. “This showcases horse and rider, and puts them through a lot together. It’s good for their partnerships, and we love to see our friends from other agencies come out and join in our friendly competition.”