Police on horseback, a tradition that dates to the 1800s, are falling victim to budget cuts as cities struggle to maintain basic police services, USA Today reports. Mounted police units in cities including San Diego, Portland, Or., and Clarksville, Tn., have begun the process of disbanding. Units in Boston and Tulsa were eliminated last year.
There were more than 300 full-time mounted units a decade ago; fewer than 100 remain, says Fred Parker, president of Mounted Police Training Systems in Boca Raton, Fl. In San Diego, the mounted unit is being cut to save officers’ jobs and maintain the ability of officers to respond to emergencies. A plan to eliminate the Portland police mounted unit and transfer some of its officers to a bike patrol to save about $585,000 a year was announced last month. New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago still have mounted forces and no plans to eliminate them have been announced. The Baltimore mounted police unit staved off elimination for this year with donations and fundraising efforts that raised about $100,000.