On Aug. 11, Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson reinstituted the time honored tradition of presenting “Posse Badges” to members of the Posse Unit. The badges are inscribed with the year 1865, the first recorded date that reveals the use of a Walton Posse and the dispatching of a villain.
The Walton Posse celebrated its fourth year, being formed in May of 2010 under the direction of Sheriff Adkinson, to help augment the department’s need for field personnel. The posse consists of 24 members who undergo 20 to 40 hours of training and have accumulated nearly 200 volunteer hours this year in serving the residents and visitors of Walton County. The new Posse badges constitute no power of arrest what-so-ever, but are honorary in nature as were the original posse badges which relied on the state mandated authority of the sheriff or his deputy. The early posse members who chased outlaws around our county had no uniforms so a badge was necessary to denote them as assigned to the sheriff.
The issuing of the Posse badges now brings the historical concept of the sheriff’s vision of a full implementation of citizenship involvement with the law enforcement organization. He had promised during his election campaigns that a new citizen participation would take place under his administration, and with the volunteer Posse he met his goal. The bridge has now been built that fully connects the law enforcement officer with the citizenry.
In 2003, President George W. Bush worked with Congress to initiate the “Presidential Volunteer Service Award.” The award was for both individuals and groups who dedicated their time for the betterment of their community. The WCSO Posse was nominated for the award and received a gold medal for reaching over 4,000 volunteer hours in 2013. The Posse is the first “sheriff’s group” presented the distinction in the state of Florida. The award is presented to groups in the following categories: Health, Youth, Parks and Emergency. The WCSO Posse received the award in the “Emergency” category.
Sheriff Adkinson said, “The Posse Unit is a tremendous asset to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and I greatly appreciate their efforts in getting involved. This award is a testament to their hard work.”
The early posse badges of both our area and the west normally followed a general design. The sheriff and his deputies would wear a five star badge denoting the star found on the American flag, while the posse members, when issued badges, would sometimes have a six pointed star to differentiate them when other law enforcement personnel would be met on the trail. Later, sheriff, deputy, and posse badges were totally redesigned at the whim of a sheriff. So today you see on the news and TV all types of star badge patterns.
The Sheriff’s Posse is actively looking for qualified volunteers and if you feel you can be of service to your community please contact Leah Snaith, Posse coordinator at 850-892-8186. The Walton Posse also gives presentations of its early villain chasing days in Walton County for community organizations. For information call 850-218-6829.