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by Peter Moskos

February 16, 2011

Getting rid of police horses: bad

I'm not a horsey boy. I don't like horses. They scare me a bit. Plus, I've very allergic to horses and try and stay far away (though I do like biking by the horses on Central Park South on my to work).

Regardless of my dislike for horses, I think every big police department needs a few big four-legged creatures (elephants would be cool, too). Police horses do a lot of good, both in terms of very real crowd control:
The added visibility of the city’s mounted officers was helpful last May when two Times Square street vendors wanted to report smoke rising from a crude car bomb on 45th Street, which ultimately failed to explode. “They looked around,” he said, “and the first thing they saw of anyone in authority was two mounted police officers, who responded and cleared the area of bystanders before the bomb squad arrived.”
And also in terms of positive P.R.: "Nobody ever tried to pet my police car, but they line up to pet my horse." Neither is to be laughed at. Plus, there's a lot of history here, too.

But because of budget cuts, many departments are getting rid of their mounted units. It's a real shame. Especially when it's not about cost as much as it is about priorities:
“We had to balance it against being able to keep officers in the patrol cars, and making sure we had enough officers on hand to answer emergency calls,” said Assistant Chief Chief Bob Kanaski of San Diego.
I refuse to believe that one more patrol car outweighs the benefit of having one officer on horse. And hell, if need be, have officers on horses answer calls. You can always tie the horse to a lamppost. Why not? And think how cool it would be.

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