Police horses are an added asset to police work. They serve in remote areas and in metropolitan areas. Their day-to-day function includes ceremonies, crowd control, crime prevention and high visibility policing roles. Specialized duties, ranging from patrol of parks and wilderness areas, where police cars would be impractical or noisy, to riot duty, where the horse serves to intimidate and detain offenders from the crowd.
Police horses serve as a visible presence and crime deterrent. The added height, mobile mass, and visibility that the horses give their riders allow officers to observe a wider area. It also allows people to see the officers, which helps deter crime and helps people find help when they need it. Some police horses are trained in Search And Rescue due to the horse’s ability to travel where vehicles cannot.
Many cities in the United States have mounted units, with New York being the largest. However, many police horses have been dropped from many departments due to decreasing budgets. The cost for training, feeding, stabling, and outfitting a single horse is expensive. The future for police horses is very uncertain as a result of the cost factor.
People need to realize the costs are worthwhile. Officers on horseback can add value to policing. Horses are an advantage in crowd control, search and rescue, and patrol. The horses help to humanize officers and offers outreach to the community in ways that traditional police can’t do. Community policing is a very important part of police work and the horses help to open the line of communication between the public and officers.
Solutions to the cost factor may include grants and donations from organizations and non-profits. Many small towns that employ police horses have done just that for equipment and stabling costs. Police horses protect and serve, there should be money for this. Let’s find a way to keep them in action. Remember America every Texas Ranger is still issued a horse!