Rural Enforcement & Outreach Unit
In early 2015, the Rural Enforcement and Outreach Unit (REO) was created to support the Patrol and Investigations Divisions to increase services provided to the community by offering enhanced law enforcement response to the large expanses of eastern El Paso County. REO is a rural focused, community oriented unit which provides many unique services to county residents.
As a direct link to the citizens of the rural regions of eastern El Paso County, REO’s focus is to develop relationships with these residents to address issues specific to the culture and area. This includes investigating illegal marijuana growing operations, mediating fence line disputes, assisting with livestock issues, investigating equine abuse/neglect and encouraging education relating to equine health. Additionally, REO deputies are primary responders to calls-for-service in much of Patrol District 4, which covers the eastern portion of El Paso County, investigating any criminal event regardless of topic.
REO also collaborates with neighboring counties on joint enforcement operations, intelligence sharing and traffic enforcement. Acting as a conduit for information flow for citizens of rural El Paso County to the Sheriff, the unit hosts and participates in several community meetings and outreach functions each year.
REO deputies are selected in part for their knowledge, flexibility, initiative and interest in the culture and heritage of rural El Paso County. Based out of the Town of Calhan, the REO offers better coverage in the rural areas and makes it easier for the Sheriff’s Office to stay connected with the citizens who call the eastern plains home. Many residents call REO deputies directly with non-emergent problems, personalizing their relationship with the Sheriff’s Office. This relationship encourages better and timelier information exchange resulting in enhanced problem solving.
In 2017, the Mounted Unit, which was originally formed in 1996, merged with REO to increase the effectiveness of both units.
Wearing many hats, REO deputies also assigned as equine handlers may be deployed to support any component of the Sheriff’s Office, primarily in rural areas where normal patrol techniques are combined with the abilities and advantages of an equine partner. Routinely patrolling unincorporated El Paso County, an equine handler can see better from atop a horse and cover terrain where a patrol car cannot go. Trained, desensitized horses are a tremendous law enforcement tool in many settings such as homeless outreach, fugitive and evidence searches, crowd control, and search and rescue operations.
The merger of the two units enhanced the ability to investigate equine abuse and neglect cases. Animal abuse cases discovered by patrol deputies are often referred to REO who works closely with the District Attorney’s Office, veterinarians, the Colorado Brand Board and others; these situations are taken very seriously and abuse suspects are charged accordingly. Often times however, animal neglect and abuse situations often stem from lack of knowledge rather than criminal intent. In these situations, REO members who also serve as equine handlers educate inexperienced animal owners on proper care and maintenance of their animals.
The presence of deputies with their equine partners are widely appreciated and often applauded by the public. They frequently participate in and provide assistance during a variety of annual community events such as the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, the El Paso County Fair and the Air Force Academy Graduation. Additionally, mounted law enforcement presence brings a special level of decorum to special events such as the annual Pikes Peak Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony. When you see deputies deployed with their equine partners, you are encouraged to speak to them and meet the horses. We are confident you will enjoy the interaction.