COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Amid the Black Friday frenzy, the Collier County Sheriff's Office has some extra hooves on the ground. Sergeant David Estes and his horse "Lady" join other riders, patrolling the packed parking lots and cracking down on criminals.
"The horse is just a great vehicle for us, it breaks down barriers," explained Sgt. Estes.
The Sheriff's Office Mounted Unit began in 1999. Today it has 4 certified law enforcement officers and one civilian volunteer. Each horse personally belongs to each rider.
"Its a great way to interact with the public and it's a great way to get the public to do what you want them to do which is not commit crimes. We're also looking to deter any crimes of opportunity. A lot of people, especially on black Friday, they're excited about getting a good deal and they'll enter the store and leave valuables in plain view in the vehicle," said Sgt. Estes.
The horses can maneuver in between parked cars and through bushes and ditches.
If they see someone burglarizing your vehicle, they don't mess around. These riders on horseback can arrest somebody without every getting off the horse!
The horses are also used for crime safety education, something these four footed deputies don't seem mind one bit.
The horses are trained to have a calm demeanor in the often-hectic shopping environment.They're exposed to loud noises like explosions and even helicopters before they hit the pavement on patrol.
Bell Tower Shops in Lee County also increased its security for a busy Black Friday. The general manager tells us they brought in extra officers in anticipation of a larger crowd.
Those officers could be seen riding around on golf carts, driving through parking lots in their security vehicles, and patrolling the walkways.