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Maries County Sheriff says he’ll form a posse


Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman says he's forming a posse for specialized situations.

Heitman posted on Facebook that the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 and Missouri law allow the sheriff, during civil unrest or times of emergency need to protect the life or property of county citizens, to create a posse.

Chief Deputy Scott John said he was inspired to create the program after seeing other counties and states having similar programs. He cited Cole County Sheriff's posse for partial inspiration.

"What we're lookin' for is more along the lines of what we can do in the public," John said. "We're looking to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the public."

John said that the program is meant to get people out into their own community making a difference, and to help with spreading resources.

"We're few in numbers as far as Sheriff's Office staff and Deputies go," John said. "Having posse members will multiply our presence in the community."

According to the post, the primary goals of the group would include:

  • To train and be prepared to serve the sheriff and defend county citizens.
  • To be positive role models to members of the community and youth.
  • To be a positive group bridging gaps between law enforcement and citizens.
  • To increase the number of trained citizens in the community.

Before joining the posse, an applicant needs to pass a background check, meet the requirements and be accepted. The minimum requirements include:

  • Be 18 years old.
  • U.S. resident.
  • Valid driver's license.
  • Good health.
  • No felony convictions.
  • No misdemeanor convictions for 12 months.

John said that there will be multiple points during the hiring process meant to help decide if somebody is a good candidate that would represent the Sheriff's Office correctly.

Posse members would be trained to respond to a spectrum of calls including:

  • Search and rescue.
  • Crime scene search.
  • Fairground security.
  • Youth engagement.
  • School safety.
  • Emergency response.
  • Concealed carry classes.

John said that posse members would have the opportunity to carry a firearm if they go through proper training. He said the use of a gun would be reserved for self-defense or defending those in life threatening danger.

John said the training would be similar to what armed jailers or baliffis would get. This includes firearm safety, education on laws surrounding guns and when lethal force is justified. There will be some restrictions due to members of the posse not being licensed police officers in the state.

"We'll teach them advanced first aid," John said. "Where if they're responding to an event, they can be a first responder, first aid known person to respond to an event."

An informational meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. May 18, at the Maries County Courthouse.

Check back for more information on this developing story.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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Ethan Heinz


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