The Philadelphia Police Mounted Unit is closing for the second time in 50 years because of a budget cut, reports the Philadelphia Daily News. The unit’s horses are going back to their original owners, who donated them, or to other police departments. No horses are being sold.
It’s hard to watch the horses being taken away. “He’s your partner, you work with him every day,” said one longtime officer. “And now you’ll never see him again. It’s almost like someone dying. The police profession is looked at as a macho profession, but there’s a lot of guys crying their eyes out this week.”
In 1952, the unit was shut down in a city cost-cutting drive. Officials said motorcycles could do the job of horses. Twenty years later, Mayor Frank Rizzo brought Mounted back. This year officials said bikes would be used to control unruly crowds, and all-terrain vehicles to search wooded areas.
The unit’s officers felt betrayed that politicians didn’t save them. “We looked for City Council to help us, and they hung us out to dry,” said Rich Kendzior, who retired last year after 26 years in the unit. “We were always on the front lines. We did everything for the city, and they just drop you.”