Cops on horses: An old-fashioned police technique in the modern age
Communities generally love horse patrols. Most of the time the public is reluctant to interact with police offices..but less so on horse back. ~ HfH
From: Southern California Public Radio
By: Rina Palta
Nevertheless, many departments across the nation maintain one of law enforcement’s oldest policing tools: mounted patrol units, ie, the cop on a horse.
This weekend, about 150 officers from units around the world gathered in the City of Industry for an annual conference to swap best practices and the occasional blooper story. (Horses like to eat–sometimes hotdogs out of unsuspecting civilian hands, apparently.)
L.A. County Sheriff’s Sergeant Joe Haertsch admits the equestrian unit he supervises might seem dated.
“Even though it’s, I guess you would say ‘old technology,’ it’s very, very valuable in the 21st century,” Haertsch said.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department uses its 180-person unit (mostly comprised of volunteers) for patrolling the county’s parks, for crowd control, and regular policing operations. Recently, deputies on horse back participated in a sweep targeting pimps on Long Beach Boulevard in Compton. They can do things deputies in patrol cars often can’t, Haertsch said, like jump a curb, turn into a tight alley, and even chase down a suspect who’s fleeing on foot through a narrow stretch.
On at least one occasion, Deputy Hill Goodhart said he pulled over another horse.
“I guess you could say it was reckless horse riding,” Goodhart said. “There was two of them and they were running as fast as they could.”
Like Goodhart, most of the deputies and citizen volunteers in the equestrian unit are horse people. They grew up riding, and made it a part of their career. LAPD Lieutenant Tony Lomedico says the 30-officers in his department’s mounted unit are a little different.
“Almost every officer did not know anything about horses,” Lomedico said. “They had just established themselves as great Los Angeles police officers.”
LAPD’s mounted unit is part of the elite Metropolitan Division, made up of many of the department’s specialized forces. Like other Metro officers, those in the mounted unit are required to have good marksmanship and maintain good physical fitness.