The NewsDog got wind of some not so happy news about some higher-ups at the Po-leece Department that have designs on doing away with the department’s Mounted Patrol unit and roll those officers back to District car gigs answering calls for service in high crime areas. That news doesn’t make this little four-legged ankle biter any too happy and we’re here to hopefully sway that decision in favor of those officers, hooved and otherwise, that do so much for the department in terms of bridge building, positive image and community policing.
Let’s focus on that community policing element for starters. Taking a page from the Jim Corwin playbook by gutting one of the department’s most effective community policing tools isn’t the answer. Former Chief Corwin, despite his promises to the Northeast and East Side communities, disbanded the department’s CAN (Community Action Network) units, leaving only one CAN Unit at the Westside Community Center. For the record, the former Chief didn’t want to go toe-to-toe with Westside CAN Director Linda Callon and that singular CAN Center remains today as a model for community policing. But I digress.
The Mounted Patrol represents community policing at its core by building relationships with community members of all ages through the simple act of riding a horse. With the very real war on police in full swing, what better resource to have at the department’s disposal than a unit like the Mounted Patrol that breaks down all manner of barriers, racial, socio-economic, et al, just by the very virtue of the fact that an officer is riding a large four legged mammal, – not a common sight in the city’s urban core to be sure.
This Community News-Dog has seen it time and again at various events in the community where children and adults flock around the gentle giants, give a scratch behind the ears or on the neck and maybe get a little horse slobber in the bargain for the trip home. That’s a bridge you can’t build in a department-issued Ford Explorer. The Dog would argue as well that it’s cheaper to maintain the Hay-Burners in the barn than it is some of the department’s aging Crown Vic Interceptors.
From a policing standpoint, this Dog believes that neighbors in high crime areas would be more apt to approach a mounted officer with intel about the corner dope house than they would a District Officer in a cruiser with the windows rolled up. Good intel is all about approachability and a car window is an obvious barrier. Add to the mix the versatility of a mounted officer in parade or crowd control situations. Horses can often go where a squad car can’t. Granted, maybe that top-shelf Traffic Officer can horse (pardon the pun) that Harley Road King over the curb and through a yard but the inherent risks involved there are too numerous to mention.
Here’s the bottom line. This is all about the best case practices in the deployment of department resources. Rollin’ these guys back out into district cars to bring the city down a few notches in some big city think tank dangerous cities poll isn’t the answer. In fact, the answer to lowering that ranking lies with prosecutors who, God forbid, actually prosecute violent criminals and put them in jail instead of constantly reducing bail amounts until they roll back out on the street to carry on the family line of work, a la DeAndre Buchanan, thank you very much.
The Mounted Patrol policing model works, which apparently makes it a target for the top PoPo brass to tinker with. Take this Dog’s advice. This is an invaluable resource to the department in terms of community policing and positive community outreach. In a time when the war on police continues to ramp up, what better piece of community outreach than the department’s Mounted Patrol unit to bridge that divide.