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KEYSTONE CITIZEN PATROLS MAY GAIN HORSEPOWER

Horse patrols save energy and mesh with the area, backers say.

Giddyup.

That's what a Keystone civic leader says to the idea of citizen sheriff patrols. He asks: Why not do them on horseback?

The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office started the citizen patrol program about 10 months ago in Apollo Beach and Westchase, and the idea has caught on steadily.

Normally, the program partners a couple of resident volunteers and has them keep tabs on their neighborhood from behind the wheel of a special car.

But Tom Aderhold, president of the Keystone Civic Association, says his volunteers want to patrol on horseback.

"We're an equestrian community where people love to ride and show their horses off," he said.

Aderhold, also a candidate for the County Commission, said patrolling the community on horseback would be a "wonderful signature for Keystone." It also would save the Sheriff's Office money for cars and gas.

Residents on horseback could get into places they couldn't get in a car, and it would be green, "a lot greener in some areas,'' Aderhold said.

So far there's been no resistance.

"I think it's a wonderful idea, and I don't see why it wouldn't work," said Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Kristy Udagawa. "I've contacted the person in charge, and I'm waiting for a callback."

The unpaid citizen patrols have no arrest powers and stay clear of dangerous situations. But they are taught how to direct traffic, perform CPR and follow the lingo on police radios. After graduation, they work in pairs on six-hour shifts from about 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.

The only problem Aderhold sees with the mounted patrol will be accommodating the number of people he thinks will want to participate.

"It's a natural," he said. "People here love their horses, and they love having a mission in life."

Jackie Ripley can be reached at ripley@sptimes. com or (813) 269-5308.

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