And just like that, thirteen years of community policing goes out the window.
Kansas City’s Mounted Patrol Unit has officially been disbanded and the officers in that unit will be re-deployed into the various patrol zones filling vacant positions, ostensibly to address the ever-escalating homicide rate in the city.
On Jan. 10, 2020, the stable doors will close for the final time.
This community policing-minded Newsdog is calling the move short-sighted.
The initial closing announcement came in mid-November, ironically, just two short weeks after a new corporate sponsor had been announced for the unit to assist with operating expenses.
Keep in mind the Mounted Patrol Unit only cost the Police Department roughly $50,000 a year in operational expenses, not counting salaries and benefits for the officers.
The rest was picked up by two nonprofit groups dedicated specifically to offsetting expenses for the unit, picking up costs such as feed, tack, and fuel.
About two weeks ago, Chief Richard Smith vetoed a counter proposal that would deploy a handful of officers at the barn then add additional resources on an as-needed basis.
The Northeast News got an inside look at the Mounted Patrol last August when we spent the morning with Sergeant Joey Roberts and his crew at the Mounted Patrol stables in Swope Park.
That roughly 20-minute video piece is accessible on our website.
This thin blue line-supporting news pooch knows a bit about community policing given our experience with the Northeast CAT/CAN Center back in the 1990s.
The whole point of community policing is building relationships with the community and officers engaging the community one-on-one in a proactive, non-threatening manner.
That’s one of the cornerstones of community policing as defined by a number of textbooks that are used in criminal justice curriculums in colleges across the country.
The Mounted Patrol is textbook community policing and the results of their efforts were easily documented by the number of people, young and old alike, who literally came out of the woodwork wherever they were deployed in the community.
Why such an effective outreach and relationship building tool like this would be scrapped is beyond this Dog’s comprehension.
That said, if the end game is to increase the clearance rate of homicides, maybe more pressure should be brought to bear on County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker to more effectively prosecute violent crime.
With all the additional resources brought to the table over the last couple of months by the Feds, why didn’t we see a change in Peters-Baker’s catch and release paradigm?
Additionally, making inroads into the community and changing the “snitches get stitches” mantra that seems to run rampant in some of the city’s urban core communities.
Putting cops on horses in those neighborhoods in a non-threatening, proactive manner would be one key step in peeling that onion.
Here’s the bottom line from the Newsdog: shuttering the Mounted Patrol Unit and re-assigning the six or seven officers out to the patrol zones will do little or nothing to address the homicide rate.
Building relationships in the community and changing the prosecutorial paradigm and making criminals fear harsh consequences will reap twice the rewards.