KANSAS CITY – Dozens of residents lined up behind the microphone at the Board of Police Commissioners Meeting this morning to give public testimony on KCPD Mounted Patrol Unit. The Department is considering doing away with Mounted Patrol and dispersing the officers among the patrol divisions, answering calls for service in squad cars.
In June 2006, a full-time Mounted Patrol Section was formed within the Special Operations Division of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. Currently, the Mounted Patrol Section consists of eight officers and one sergeant and nine horses.
According to the KCPD website, the Mounted Patrol Section is a “valuable asset to the community,” offering crowd control, crime control and deterrence, and community relations.
Police Chief Rick Smith and Board of Police Commissioners President Nathan Garrett addressed the packed community room, assuring attendees that their presence was not unnoticed, and their concerns would not go unheard.
“We are going to work on the criminal element and that takes manpower,” said Chief Smith. “Where can we do this most effectively? There is no doubt that Mounted Patrol does great things, but this is about asking if this the right balance.”
“When we talk about balancing resources of the police department to combat crime, there’s no one size fits all solution,” said Garrett. “When we allocate men and women to combat crime, we are trying to do it effectively. We recognize that community engagement is a critical part of law enforcement function.”
A common thread woven through all public testimony was that very issue– community engagement. A former Mounted Patrol Officer gave first-hand experience to patrolling a high-crime area and watching residents come out of their homes and adults accompany children who wanted to pet the horse.
“I could drive down the street in my patrol car and watch people go inside and close their doors, but the streets would be full when I patrolled on a horse,” he said.
One retired KCPD officer said the engagement officers received while on horses even allowed officers to get information on criminal activity that they otherwise might not have.
“We were regularly assigned various areas in the city. Through those various patrols, we engaged with people, we recovered guns, and there were a lot of crime issues we were able to address through our patrol. The biggest thing was the support we got while on patrol. We even had some of the actual criminals coming out because their children wanted to see the horses. They could actually talk to the police. We’d were able to identify problems we didn’t previously know,” he said.
Another retired KCPD officer referenced the April 3 opinion article in the Northeast News that stresses the importance of the Mounted Patrol.
The Board made no decision today on what to do with Mounted Patrol. More information will be delivered as it becomes available.