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Maries County Sheriff’s Department hopes to improve community safety with new citizen ‘posse’ | Mid-Missouri News | #schoolsaftey

Some duties of the posse include community patrols, school safety, emergency responses and youth engagement.

MARIES COUNTY — The Maries County Sheriff’s Department is forming a new program to improve community safety and combat recent staffing shortages in the department.

Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman announced back in April that he was forming a posse of citizens. 

According to his Facebook post, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 and Missouri law allows sheriffs, during civil unrest or times of emergency need to protect the life or property of county citizens, to call upon the posse comitatus, better known as the “posse.”

The goals of the posse are to be prepared to serve the sheriff and to defend Maries County citizens. Heitman hopes the posse will bridge any gaps between law enforcement and citizens and will increase the number of trained citizens.

The posse can also serve as a group of positive role models to the community’s youth.

Some duties of the posse include community patrols, school safety, emergency responses and youth engagement. 

Maries County Chief Deputy Scott John said the department was inspired to start its own program after it was modeled by other law enforcement agencies, including the Cole County Sheriff’s Office.

John said the members of the posse will not have any law enforcement powers or authority but will instead act as volunteers representing the sheriff’s department as trained eyes and ears in the community.

“We’re wanting to get a group of people together that are trained for CPR, advanced first aid, weather spotting, those types of events that way, if we do have an emergency, we can use them as a force multiplier,” John said.

Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler said its citizens program has been around for about 10 years and has made many positive impacts in his community and department. 

“I think every sheriff’s department should have a posse,” Wheeler said. “Not only is it good for staff, not only is it good for morale, I think it’s also good for the community. It’s easier for the law enforcement to take care of the functions they need to take care of.”

Some members do a lot more for the community than most people think, Wheeler said. 

“We had an awards banquet, this individual [a member] volunteered over 700 hours,” Wheeler said. “We simply couldn’t operate without them. My hat goes off to Maries County. I’m glad they’re doing that, the sheriff out there is a good dude.”

The Maries County Sheriff’s Department will host an informational meeting to explain its intentions for the program and answer any questions at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18 at the Maries County Courthouse. 

Before anyone can join the program, they must apply, pass a background check, meet the requirementS and be accepted.


The minimum requirements include:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • A U.S. resident
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Good health
  • No felony convictions
  • No misdemeanor convictions for 12 months
  • Personal conduct suitable for law enforcement association. 

Posse applications can also be picked up at the sheriff’s office or at the May 18 meeting.

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