Nightmare is one of six horses in the Bridgeport, Ct., mounted police unit, and earns her keep through public relations, patrol, and crowd control, reports the Connecticut Post. It may seem like a relic of the past, but the Bridgeport mounted unit is the largest of two in the state. Mounted officers work in pairs and are stationed throughout the city, in all weather, year-round. “You’re going to be able to move a crowd of people a lot quicker with these huge horses than you would with 50 officers,” says officer Edgar Perez. “It’s a good show of force. It’s non-confrontational, also, which is good. Look at a lot of the bigger towns, the bigger cities – New York City, New Orleans. It’s a lot of departments going to the mounted unit, utilizing the horses, because they can replace 50 officers.”
The horses are “a classy element of the city, and we’re very proud of them,” says Mayor Bill Finch. The cost and upkeep of Bridgeport’s horses is supported through grants from the Equus Foundation in Westport, and the police budget. It costs about $50,000 a year in veterinary and food bills to support the six horses. A horse can cost $5,000 to $8,000 to purchase, and can be on active duty for 10 or more years, he says. In contrast, a new police cruiser costs about $30,000. This year, the city budgeted $450,000 for gas for the fleet of about 150 vehicles.