Philadelphia Police Mounted Patrol Unit

[email protected]

Sent By: Citizens to Save the Horses CommitteeC/O Nancy Carroll, Director P/O Box 17703 Philadelphia, PA 19135 Phone: 215-969-2243 Fax: 215-676-6096

To the editor,

On Thursday, March 25, 2004, the Philadelphia Managing Director gave a written order to the Police Commissioner to, “Please proceed forthwith to put in action the Mayor’s decision to no longer have our mounted police unit”. This decision comes even before the city council hearings for the Police Dept. budgeting, which are scheduled to reconvene on Monday, April 19, 2004. Additionally, it comes before the end of the city’s current fiscal year this June, in which the funds have already been budgeted. The Mounted Police, a tradition in Philadelphia dating back to 1858, has been a vital role in not only policing the city’s 9,100 acres of Fairmount park, but the primary source of crowd control by the Philadelphia Police Department. The ability for mounted police officers to both see things from a much higher perspective and be seen from greater distances also makes them a valuable asset in patrol and crime deterrence. Not to forget, the positive image the unit gives the city and department at parades, sporting events and multiple public events throughout the year. Recently, there has been much speculation and debate that the horses are obsolete and could be replaced by officers on bicycles. While this idea may sound financially beneficial, it is certainly not practical in the interest of public safety and law enforcement. For example, in the situation of a violent crowd, a bicycle, with its lightweight frame and rubber tires, could easily be pulled from officers and even used as a weapon if it is thrown at officers or civilians. Injuries (and lawsuits) are eminent. While on the other hand, the mere size and presence of a police horse is intimidating to say the least, and there has never been a case in the Philadelphia mounted patrol’s history when a police horse has been taken away from the officer. Also, the ability of the mounted officers to access densely wooded areas for incidents such as those involving searches for dangerous fugitives or missing persons make the unit a necessity to police work. The Mayor has decided that the benefits of having a mounted patrol unit is not worth its annual operating cost of $400,000. Simply stated he apparently feels the approximate savings of 0.27% off the City’s $144,000,000 deficit is worth a direct loss of public safety. It is with much urgency that this is not allowed to happen. Please contact the Mayor’s office at (215) 686-2181, the Managing Director’s Office at (215) 686-3480 and your city councilperson ASAP and tell them to “STOP THE DISBANDMENT OF THE MOUNTED PATROL UNIT”. If the mayor were allowed to close the unit and sell the horses and inventory before city council has the opportunity to vote against it, reimplementing the unit would be several times more costly.

Thank you,Citizens to Save the Horses Committee