Congress De-Funds Capitol Horse Patrol After 1 1/2 Years


Congress is shutting down a six-officer, five-horse mounted unit run by the U.S. Capitol Police less than a year and a half after it first saddled up, reports the Washington Post. House members, led by Reps. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), questioned the need for more officers on horseback when the capital has similar units maintained by the Park Police and D.C. police. They also raised concerns about projected long-range costs and argued that crowd control is not an essential service for Congress and its staff. “Our main security concern on the Hill is terrorists, not crowds,” said Moran, who has opposed the horse patrol from the start. He added that the horses “need pooper scoopers.”

The unit was launched in fiscal 2005 with $82,000. The Capitol Police budget is nearly $250 million. The horseback unit was a favorite project of Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer. It had the enthusiastic support of then-Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Co.), who once rode with a mounted police unit in Sacramento. Campbell said the horse patrol unit “earned its keep,” especially for helping control crowds at the Jan. 20 swearing-in of President Bush. “The terrorists are usually in the crowd. Maybe [Moran] doesn’t know that,” Campbell said. “I heard that he was just worried about stepping in horse manure.”


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