The New Mexico Mounted Patrol is descending on Clovis this weekend to celebrate 70 years of assisting law enforcement, and to undertake training to ensure they do it for a 71st year.
The annual convention — which organizers expect will draw about 60 mounted patrol officers — takes place mostly at the Days Inn hotel with stops elsewhere in the county.
John Jones of Clovis, deputy chief for the mounted patrol, said the two biggest misconceptions are confusion with the Curry County Mounted Patrol — which is a separate rodeo group — and where they fall on the state budget. The mounted patrol, created by state statute in 1941, isn’t funded by the state.
“Basically, we assist law enforcement agencies throughout the state of New Mexico,” Jones said. “We have no funding at all. It’s a volunteer effort. All of our funding comes out of our own pocket and donations if we get them.”
According to the Department of Public Safety, “The Mounted Patrol is not a division of the State Police but is an independent state agency that can be called upon to assist any law enforcement agency and serve anywhere in the state. mounted patrol troopers may be called out by the Governor, the Chief of the State Police or by any local or county police agency.”
The patrol is led by Dan Girand of Roswell, who has been a mounted patrolman for 35 years. In all, there are about 200 mounted patrol officers in the state, Jones said, with six in Clovis and one in Portales. Whenever a mounted patrol officer comes to the aid of an agency, the officer is regarded as a member of that agency and has full police powers, including authority to make arrests.
To keep operational readiness, Jones said, members have to take 400 hours of training at the organization’s satellite academy and do about 22 hours of training each year to stay current with paid law enforcement.
Saturday’s convention activities include firearm qualification training at Patriot Outdoors.
Despite the heavy involvement with police procedures, Jones said, most of the members aren’t former officers. Some are, but you’re just as likely to find a retired postal worker like Jones.
“I enjoy doing it,” said Jones, who has lived in Clovis since 1977 and joined the mounted patrol 25 years ago. “I can give back to the community for all it does for me.