Detroit’s mounted patrol is funded through private donations and funding from two government foundations. Additionally, a local business pledged funds through 2019. Annually the unit requires about $75,000 to $100,000. This modest funding means the division members take on a great deal of extra work. The officers clean stalls, maintain buildings, groom, feed and care for the horses themselves.
You have to really want to be here,” says Eide. “It’s also 480 hours of probably the most difficult training besides the special response team. It puts demand on the body most haven’t experienced before. Plus, you’re trying to control something that has a mind of its own.”
Once in the Mounted Division, officers are assigned their own horse ultimately developing a lasting relationship with them. There’s a 30-day trial period from when a new horse is donated to the unit to when it is deemed fit for service. On that day, the primary officer takes official ownership of the horse by naming it and shaving its mane. Eide’s horse is Hoosier, a black-coated, 7-year-old Percheron with a white star so named because the horse is from Indiana and Eide is fond of the movie “Hoosiers.”
After spending so much time caring for and riding their horses, Eide says an almost extra-sensory communication develops between officers and their animals that is essential to effective police work.
“It’s all in body language,” says Eide. “There’s nothing verbal. Eventually they’ll get to know what you want, and do it, just by you thinking about it.”
Sergeant Douglas Muston of the Detroit Mounted Unit says he is grateful to be able to carry on this long and proud tradition with the men and women in his unit.
“Until you’ve experienced it, you cannot appreciate the average day on horseback in our great city. People love to see and interact with our horses, not to mention the feeling of safety Mounted Officers provide.
Edited from the Following Resources: http://www.modeldmedia.com/features/mountedpolice032315.aspx, http://www.wxyz.com/news/horses-on-the-force-detroit-expands-mounted-police-patrols, http://www.dailydetroit.com/2016/06/07/strategic-staffing-solutions-support-detroit-police-mounted-unit-three-years/
Photography Courtesy: Marvin Shaouni, The Detroit Public Safety Foundation, Howard McGraw of the Detroit News.