The unit’s headquarters on West Sixth Street allows them easy access to downtown streets, where unit supervisor Sergeant Ellen Sam says they are a useful extension of the police department’s patrols.
The mounted officers’ high vantage point on these large horses (who must measure at least 16 hands, or 64 inches at the shoulder) makes them well-suited to crowd control work. The horses can also maneuver tight city streets and alleys better than patrol cars, and give the police better visibility in the community.
“It’s high-visibility patrol, and that in itself can be a deterrent. The nice thing is, a lot of time, unlike with patrol cars … even if [people are] not outside, they can hear the horses. The steel shoes on the pavement –– you can’t mistake the sound, and for some people that’s nice to know the police are there,” Sam said.
She also believes the horses help officers seem more approachable.