Police hope to ride downtown core horses to better visibility

News Sep 25, 2009 Ancaster News

Hamilton police are reaching into the past –and for a scooper as needed –by reintroducing horse-mounted officers to increase visibility at Hess Village, local festivals, football games and other special events.

A three-year pilot project approved the police services board this week will see two patrols of two officers each on the street by next May, primarily in the downtown core, at an initial start up cost of $72,000 for the horses, riding gear and training. Although many other major Canadian cities still use horse-mounted officers, including Toronto, Hamilton phased them out in the 1920’s.

“I see this as nothing but spectacular,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger, predicting the horses will be popular with citizens and visitors, and be a boon to Hamilton’s image.

“This is a good investment for our city, in my humble opinion, even though it does cost a little extra money,” he said.

“The only downside I can see is that we encourage all of our residents to poop and scoop (after dogs), and one of the challenges –and I think it will be a challenge –is how we manage the stuff on the road.”

Chief Brian Mullan said equine waste is relatively innocuous and degrades quickly because it mostly consists of grasses, but police “will be very proactive” in cleaning up after the horses, which will usually walk on the road.

“We know that we’ll have our challenges in regards to that, but that’s something we’ll be working on very stringently to eliminate the possible difficulties,” he said. “It’s something we’re very focused on.”

While supporting the plan, Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead expressed skepticism about the budget for the horses’ upkeep, which is $10,000 each for boarding at a local farm, transportation and veterinary expenses –a figure based on Toronto’s experience. He said horses can suffer shin splints from walking on pavement and one sick animal could easily blow the budget. The cost of the officers is not included in estimates because they will be drawn from the existing force.

“We need to understand that those (cost) numbers can grow,” Mr. Whitehead said. “I just want to make sure we’re going in eyes wide open.”

In a presentation, Sergeant Martin Schulenberg said although the horses will mostly patrol the downtown core, they can also be assigned to business improvement areas throughout the city as needed.

Horses are particularly good for crowd control because they use little force and people like them, he said. From an officer’s standpoint, they also provide a better vantage point and crime deterrence.

“You’ll see two officers riding on a horse three blocks away. It’s probably going to take them a couple of minutes to get to you and you’ll see them three minutes as they leave,” Sgt. Schulenberg said. “Foot officers are seen for a short period of time but they often get lost in the crowd. Bicycle officers often compete for visibility with vehicular traffic and cruiser patrol unfortunately projects the image the officer is just passing through.”

Police hope to ride downtown core horses to better visibility

News Sep 25, 2009 Ancaster News

Hamilton police are reaching into the past –and for a scooper as needed –by reintroducing horse-mounted officers to increase visibility at Hess Village, local festivals, football games and other special events.

A three-year pilot project approved the police services board this week will see two patrols of two officers each on the street by next May, primarily in the downtown core, at an initial start up cost of $72,000 for the horses, riding gear and training. Although many other major Canadian cities still use horse-mounted officers, including Toronto, Hamilton phased them out in the 1920’s.

“I see this as nothing but spectacular,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger, predicting the horses will be popular with citizens and visitors, and be a boon to Hamilton’s image.

“This is a good investment for our city, in my humble opinion, even though it does cost a little extra money,” he said.

“The only downside I can see is that we encourage all of our residents to poop and scoop (after dogs), and one of the challenges –and I think it will be a challenge –is how we manage the stuff on the road.”

Chief Brian Mullan said equine waste is relatively innocuous and degrades quickly because it mostly consists of grasses, but police “will be very proactive” in cleaning up after the horses, which will usually walk on the road.

“We know that we’ll have our challenges in regards to that, but that’s something we’ll be working on very stringently to eliminate the possible difficulties,” he said. “It’s something we’re very focused on.”

While supporting the plan, Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead expressed skepticism about the budget for the horses’ upkeep, which is $10,000 each for boarding at a local farm, transportation and veterinary expenses –a figure based on Toronto’s experience. He said horses can suffer shin splints from walking on pavement and one sick animal could easily blow the budget. The cost of the officers is not included in estimates because they will be drawn from the existing force.

“We need to understand that those (cost) numbers can grow,” Mr. Whitehead said. “I just want to make sure we’re going in eyes wide open.”

In a presentation, Sergeant Martin Schulenberg said although the horses will mostly patrol the downtown core, they can also be assigned to business improvement areas throughout the city as needed.

Horses are particularly good for crowd control because they use little force and people like them, he said. From an officer’s standpoint, they also provide a better vantage point and crime deterrence.

“You’ll see two officers riding on a horse three blocks away. It’s probably going to take them a couple of minutes to get to you and you’ll see them three minutes as they leave,” Sgt. Schulenberg said. “Foot officers are seen for a short period of time but they often get lost in the crowd. Bicycle officers often compete for visibility with vehicular traffic and cruiser patrol unfortunately projects the image the officer is just passing through.”

Police hope to ride downtown core horses to better visibility

News Sep 25, 2009 Ancaster News

Hamilton police are reaching into the past –and for a scooper as needed –by reintroducing horse-mounted officers to increase visibility at Hess Village, local festivals, football games and other special events.

A three-year pilot project approved the police services board this week will see two patrols of two officers each on the street by next May, primarily in the downtown core, at an initial start up cost of $72,000 for the horses, riding gear and training. Although many other major Canadian cities still use horse-mounted officers, including Toronto, Hamilton phased them out in the 1920’s.

“I see this as nothing but spectacular,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger, predicting the horses will be popular with citizens and visitors, and be a boon to Hamilton’s image.

“This is a good investment for our city, in my humble opinion, even though it does cost a little extra money,” he said.

“The only downside I can see is that we encourage all of our residents to poop and scoop (after dogs), and one of the challenges –and I think it will be a challenge –is how we manage the stuff on the road.”

Chief Brian Mullan said equine waste is relatively innocuous and degrades quickly because it mostly consists of grasses, but police “will be very proactive” in cleaning up after the horses, which will usually walk on the road.

“We know that we’ll have our challenges in regards to that, but that’s something we’ll be working on very stringently to eliminate the possible difficulties,” he said. “It’s something we’re very focused on.”

While supporting the plan, Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead expressed skepticism about the budget for the horses’ upkeep, which is $10,000 each for boarding at a local farm, transportation and veterinary expenses –a figure based on Toronto’s experience. He said horses can suffer shin splints from walking on pavement and one sick animal could easily blow the budget. The cost of the officers is not included in estimates because they will be drawn from the existing force.

“We need to understand that those (cost) numbers can grow,” Mr. Whitehead said. “I just want to make sure we’re going in eyes wide open.”

In a presentation, Sergeant Martin Schulenberg said although the horses will mostly patrol the downtown core, they can also be assigned to business improvement areas throughout the city as needed.

Horses are particularly good for crowd control because they use little force and people like them, he said. From an officer’s standpoint, they also provide a better vantage point and crime deterrence.

“You’ll see two officers riding on a horse three blocks away. It’s probably going to take them a couple of minutes to get to you and you’ll see them three minutes as they leave,” Sgt. Schulenberg said. “Foot officers are seen for a short period of time but they often get lost in the crowd. Bicycle officers often compete for visibility with vehicular traffic and cruiser patrol unfortunately projects the image the officer is just passing through.”