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Taking the equestrian beat

July 06, 2002

Ryan Carter

Officer Edgar Penaranda has always been proud of his horse, Scout.

It was the trailer that the 20-year-old American Quarter Horse

traveled in that he wanted to improve.

"It was an ugly old brown trailer," he said.

But not anymore.

After a year of Penaranda's work to restore the 30-year-old

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vehicle, the department recently pitched in with some grant money to

have it professionally painted. Now, the black-and-white trailer is

more consistent with the rest of the department's fleet.

"It looks nice now, and we don't have to hide it somewhere," he

said, adding that anything to enhance the ability to use the horses

as tools for public safety education is a plus.

Education is much of what the Burbank Police Department's Mounted

Unit is all about. Penaranda and Scout, along with and Officer Rick

Medlin and his horse, Sam, patrol hillside areas and Burbank Village

and go to schools with anti-drug and gun safety messages.

"Talk about an ice breaker," Penaranda said. "When we are on our

horses, we cannot go more than five feet until we are stopped and

asked about the horses."

Medlin and Penaranda are joined in the equestrian unit by three

other officers, whose horses are all state certified and trained.

Scout, for example, is unfazed by the pop of fireworks or the zeal of

curious children. And the horses are so disciplined in various leg

pressures and positions, officers can write traffic tickets without

getting off the horse.

Summer is the unit's busy time because car and pedestrian traffic

picks up then, especially in Burbank Village. The officers own the

horses, and they cover the cost of boarding and bridling their

animals.

Penaranda, who works regular patrol as a department training

officer, said he's been able to combine his love for horses with a

career in law enforcement, something he never thought would happen

when he joined the force.

"It's rare that someone comes up and says, "Hey, can I pet your

car?'" he said.

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