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Saddle up, boys, said the sheriff. We're goin' after that paperwork.

The county sheriff's office is looking for volunteers for a posseto help with the phones and the filing, some courthouse security andeven to back up deputies serving civil warrants, if it comes to that.

"By taking the dead-weight jobs from the deputies, that would free them up to do things they would be better off doing," said Craig A.Theobold, a retired California police officer who now runs a sandwich shop in Pasadena and is recruiting volunteers for the posse. "You don't need a 10-year veteran answering the phones and doing filing."

The idea for a volunteer posse came up during Robert G. Pepersack'ssuccessful 1990 campaign for sheriff, said Theobold, who retired on disability from the Compton, Calif., police force in September 1976.

"I was a liaison between the reserve officers and the police department in Compton, and it was a wonderful program," he explained. "I suggested it would be fantastic to get retired policemen or people interested in law enforcement for about 16 to 20 hours a month as volunteers."

Some of the 40 to 50 volunteers he hopes to recruit could help with clerical tasks, others could be trained to help with courthouse security, and some could provide back-up for deputies serving warrants, he suggested.

"I'm a former peace officer, and there might be others out there like me who could provide back-up," he said. "So instead of using two deputies, you could use only one deputy and someone from the posse."

The volunteer effort was organized about a year ago, according to Undersheriff J. Patrick Ogle. But Theobold only recently stepped up recruiting efforts, posting fliers and sending letters to newspapers.

"We have about four or five who work here now," he said. "But we could use all the help we could get."

One volunteer works one day a week helping to process paper work in civil suits and another in the courthouse's holding cells shuttling documents back and forth to the courtrooms and the clerk's office. And an intern from Anne Arundel Community College has been working on a research project.

Ogle said he formalized procedures for the posse last summer, using the county police manual for its reserve officers group.

"We modified it to meet our needs," he said. "We don't need anyone directing traffic, for example."

He does need a retired accountant, he said.

"I'd love to have an accountant to help us with the procedures for the money."

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