LMPD mounted officers explain advantages to patrolling on horseback
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- While Kentucky Derby horses are meant to race, there are other horses trained to protect.
Louisville's Mounted Patrol Officers are just like all the others, except their cruiser has four legs and a tail.
On Tuesday, we found them patrolling Waterfront Park on horseback.
"We start out at the barn getting everybody ready. You got to wash them, get them clean and get the trailer to wherever we're going to - Churchill Downs, the parade on Broadway," said Officer Bill White.
You'll usually see them galloping in pairs but during Derby week, they ride in groups.
"We have a different perspective of the crowds. They're mainly used for crowd control and to respond to situations that normal patrol cars can't get to," said Officer Justin Hardy.
Louisville Metro Police Department has eight police horses.
The three officers shown patrol on horseback full time while others join for major events.
"Crowd control is probably their number one job that they have because people are intimidated by the size of the horse," said White.
The horses and officers go through extensive training before hitting the streets.
The animals respond to silent commands.
"They have to be able to withstand not only the crowds but the traffic and a lot of things that horses aren't accustomed to," said Hardy.
Once on horseback during patrol, the officers never dismount.
They make all their arrests from the saddle.
Officer Hardy says there are several advantages to patrolling on horseback.
"We can take the horse which is an 1,800-lb. animal and if the crowd is disturbing, we can single out the problem with the horses," he said.
He says it allows them a bird's eye view of most situations.
Officer White says it also makes them more approachable to the public.
"People will come up and talk to us, tell us the problems they're having in the neighborhoods. They always want to come up and talk, pet the horse," he told WDRB.
But there are also disadvantages.
"The weather is always too cold, too wet, too hot. There's only a couple months of the year that it's just right. The horses could care less but for us it gets kind of miserable," said Officer White.
You'll see Louisville's Mounted Patrol Unit at the Pegasus Parade and at Oaks and Derby. Police horses from Lexington Police Department will also be in Louisville for assistance.
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