Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Sheriff's Posse

Many think of sheriff's posses being a thing straight out of the old west, but law officers were still on horseback into the early 1900s. However, posses were used only rarely, and typically when in pursuit of someone suspected of a serious crime, such as murder, rape, assault, robbery, etc.

This posse, formed in the late 1950s was in part for show, but it served a real purpose too. Shortly after this posse was formed, under Sheriff James Tucker, in Nodaway County, and overseen by his chief deputy, W.R. Jackson, the posse was helpful in locating a young boy who had gone missing. Unfortunately, the boy, who had gone to a nearby river to fish, had fallen into the river and drowned.

Still, these posse members, on horseback, greatly multiplied the number of people able to search for the boy and they were able to cover a greater distance more quickly. Additionally, their participation in community events helped strengthen and maintain their connection to the entire Nodaway County community.

The 'posse' was later replaced by reserve officers who, for the whopping sum of $1.00 per year + expenses (during Sheriff John Middleton's term), patrolled outlying rural towns to help the understaffed sheriff's office respond to non-violent incidents, take reports, and keep 'hooligans' in check.  They provided their own cars, their own uniforms, and their own meals. It was a community service they were happy to provide. With 738 square miles of county and only the sheriff and one or two deputies available to cover 24 hours a day 7 days a week, those posse men or reserves were a valuable asset.

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