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East County Wednesday, May 22, 2019 4 months ago

Thunder strikes for mounted patrol

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Nolan Middle School students name the Sheriff's Office Mounted Patrol Unit logo.
by: Andrew Atkins Staff Writer

Students at R. Dan Nolan Middle School put the hammer down when it came to naming the mascot of the Mounted Patrol Unit for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Eighth-graders Tamlyn Leatt and Haley Wallingford suggested "THOR."

Leatt and Wallingford said they thought of THOR as an acronym for "The Horse of Righteousness."

Media aides and eighth-graders Tamlyn Leatt and Haley Wallingford came up with the name "Thor," which was accepted as the mascot name.

Deputy Holly Combee, who oversees the mounted patrol unit, said a logo had been developed for the unit and she thought it would be fun to have resource officers from the middle and high schools in the district spread the word and collect ideas for naming the mascot.

Anna Sloan, the school resource officer at Nolan Middle, sent an email to media specialist Nancy Cope, who told her media aides about the search for a mascot name. Leatt and Wallingford came up with their suggestion, other media aides voted on it, and “THOR” won. They submitted it as their school’s name submission.

Leatt and Wallingford said they couldn't contain their excitement when THOR was picked. They said they were jumping up and down and running around in circles.

Media aides at R. Dan. Nolan Middle School named the new logo "Thor."

“We were thinking of a good name that would be be strong and powerful,” Leatt said.

To congratulate the Nolan students, the Mounted Patrol Unit visited the school with one of its most recent recruits to the program, Benny, who played the role of THOR for the day.

The mounted patrol unit includes Combee and 11 other team members. When fully staffed, there are eight horses on the team.

The horses on the team, Combee said, need to fit a certain set of criteria. They have to be around 16 hands tall, have a sound mind and generally are less reactive to stimuli than most horses.

The mounted patrol unit works between 50 and 60 details a year, Combee said, which is around once a week on average. In certain months, like May, she said, they might have seven or eight details. 

“It’s just a passion,” she said. “You have to be passionate to do this job because it’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of hard, sweaty, dirty work.” 

The unit’s duties include beach patrol during holidays, school zone speed limit enforcement, shopping center patrols during season, crowd control and crime suppression via neighborhood patrol. 

Media aides from R. Dan. Nolan Middle School helped name the mascot "Thor."

Combee said it’s interesting when she goes out with the horses, people are surprised to see them and many have never had the opportunity to touch a horse.

“Nobody ever wants to come out and pet the hood of your patrol car,” she said. “People will approach you all day long with these horses.” 

For her, engaging the community and having them name the mascot in the mounted patrol unit logo is a way to spread the word and raise awareness that the unit even exists. 

So it was a win-win for both Nolan Middle, who got to name the horse in the logo, and Combee’s team, who got to raise awareness. 

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