BCSO use horses to oversee inmate litter pickup

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BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - Life is all about perspective. From a distance Highway 321 in Blount County is picturesque. But, with a closer look you may see something different.

"If you look down you'd be surprised by how much litter you actually see," says Joe Seaton, a corporal with the Blount County Sheriff's Office.

Blount County inmates have been cleaning up the highways for years. Piece by piece, they make sure they're not missing anything. But, they're not the only ones.

Sunshine and Chuck are the equine members of the Blount County Mounted Patrol Division. They work crowd control, search and rescues, and recently they've added litter patrol to that list.

"With the terrain it makes it very difficult for us to see sometimes. Horses are up high and they can go some places we can't go in a cruiser or on foot," says Seaton. "The inmates we brought out said, 'well if we had any thoughts of running that's all out now'."

It's an old-school approach with some new-found appreciation.

"A lot of people have driven by and waved and said thank you," says Seaton.

"I guess it reminds them of the older times when people used to do this," says Deputy Elizabeth Courtney, with the Blount County Sheriff's Office.

The job is still the same, but sometimes reigning in a fresh perspective can change everything.

"It's a very positive thing for Blount County," says Seaton.

For inmates to be on litter pickup duty, they have to be considered low risk and have good behavior. For every one day they do litter pickup, they get two days off their sentence. Corporal Seaton says this helps with jail overcrowding in the county.

During the summer months, it is School Resource Officers who look after the inmates during litter pickup. In the past eight days, they say they've collected over 170 bags of trash.