Mounted patrols subject of new book
A new publication titled A Sheriff’s Mounted Division in Delaware County New York, is now available.
The 109-page book is comprised largely of photographs and other memorabilia compiled by Bernice Mable Graham Telian.
Accounts of the famed Anti-Rent War provide records of what are believed to be the first use of policemen on horseback in Delaware County. Prior to that, police generally traveled by foot or in a horse-drawn wagon. The police use of horseback steadily declined with the introduction of the automobile.
Sheriff Levon Telian, who took over as Delaware County sheriff in 1969 and held that office for 17 years, was responsible for reinstating deputies on horses to the local sheriff’s department in 1972. The book recounts how “Sheriff Telian’s vision of a mounted division was based upon his knowledge of changing times” – with huge gatherings of people and riots that had been occurring.
The sheriff also believed that Delaware County could be better promoted through the department’s use of deputies utilizing horses for some of their patrol duties.
“Telian’s mounted patrol would be bonafide deputies whose normal training extended to police work astride a horse,” the author notes.
Sheriff Telian’s first mounted patrol included himself and three well-known citizens with equine talents — Dr. Peter Huyler of Walton, Burton Clark of Delhi and Aubrey James of Delhi. These men were all sworn in as special deputies.
The enthusiasm generated by the mounted patrol resulted in deputies who were already in the department taking an interest in having mounted patrol duties as part of their job. Situations such as a large strike at a dairy plant in Walton, a search-and-rescue mission and life-threatening flooding were all situations that Sheriff Telian could be enhanced by the use of mounted patrols. As a result, he decided to increase the use of in-house trailed deputies and horses.
Deputy Lloyd Watson was an experienced horse handler and was excited to help develop the department’s posse. Deputies Bill Davis and Tom Ellsworth soon joined him. Undersheriff Richard Miller, Deputy Wayne Decker and new Deputy Steve Williamson also showed enthusiasm for the horses and began practicing their equine skills after their work shifts at the jail.
Today, Steve Williamson (now Roxbury town constable) is the only member of Sheriff Telian’s original posse who is still active in police work and carrying on the tradition of the mounted patrol in Delaware County. Steve is still active on horseback — for police work, when needed — and at various parades throughout the county.
The author notes that Steve spent two weeks at Ground Zero in New York City in 2001, assisting in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. Despite the gravity of the situation, Steve later recalled that several people stopped him and said they recognized him from his presence on horseback at upstate parades.
A Sheriff’s Mounted Division in Delaware County New York may be purchased at local bookstores and checked out at several area libraries.