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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
Capt. Rick Pelicano might not be a household name.
But the recently retired assistant chief of the Maryland-National Capital Park Police Department’s Montgomery County Division – he served with Park Police for more than 36 years – has been instrumental to the safety of the Olney area, patrolling local parks and managing crowds at events, most often on horseback.
Dr. Wendy Walker, owner of Town & Country Animal Clinic, served as chairwoman of the Olney Chamber of Commerce’s crime prevention committee in the 1980s and organized Olney’s first National Night Out celebration at Longwood Recreation Center. She said Pelicano helped to make it a success.
“Rick is truly a legend,” Walker said. “He is a knight in shining armor.”
She said in the early days of National Night Out, there was no county police presence, just Park Police. The Park Police, under the leadership of Pelicano, has remained an integral part of Olney’s National Night Out event, which just celebrated its 24th year.
Pelicano was honored for his service during this year’s event on Aug. 1.
“He has always been so professional in any situation,” Walker said. “You just couldn’t find someone with his expertise, delivery, follow-through, accountability and creativity. If there’s a unique situation, he will find a solution.”
Pelicano was instrumental in the Brookeville’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Celebration.
Sandra Heiler, who chaired the event, said there were more than 120 re-enactors who portrayed Maryland Light Dragoons.
Heiler said they needed people who knew how to ride horses and were willing to wear wool uniforms at the end of August.
“Rick provided the Park Police and made it all possible,” she said. “He was great and took it all very seriously. They were an integral part of our event and made a huge difference.”
Pelicano’s career with the Park Police began at the Special Operations Unit at Ednor and Norwood roads in Sandy Spring, but his role changed significantly over the years.
“I worked on every section there, except for IT,” he said.
His job allowed him to serve a community he grew up in, while doing something he loves to do.
He grew up in the Manor Country Club community and attended St. Peter’s Catholic School in Olney.
“The whole place is completely different today,” he said. “But for as large as it is, it is fairly tight-knit. It’s always been that way and is a nice place to live.”
As a child, he grew up riding horses. When he joined the Park Police, he took a basic mounted training class and then became the department’s main trainer for many years.
He holds the highest-level certification for the American Riders Instruction Association and owns a horse training business, Pelicano Equine Training.
He has written two books, “Bombproof your Horse: Teach Your Horse to Be Confident, Obedient, and Safe, No Matter What You Encounter” and “Better Than Bombproofing: New Ways to Make Your Horse a Solid Citizen and Keep You Safe on the Ground, In the Arena and On the Trail.”
Pelicano said there have been numerous highlights throughout his career.
In 1996, he provided security at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
In 2000, he was selected by Discovery Communications to travel to England to train and compete in 13th century jousting.
He appeared as a mounted police officer in the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” starring Tom Cruise, and has provided crowd control for many high-profile events in Washington, D.C.
Pelicano officially retired on Aug. 1. He became eligible to retire after 30 years.
“I got promoted twice after that, so that’s why I stuck around,” he said. “It’s been a good time and a great place to work. It was a tough decision, but it is time to go.”
As a retiree, he is doing contract work for the federal government. He plans to remain involved with horses. He also enjoys playing the guitar and harmonica in a couple bands and riding his motorcycle.
Terri Hogan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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