Charleston, S.C., joined the growing number of cities that have retired their police horses and closed their stables to save money, says the New York Times. The Great Recession is proving to be the greatest threat to police mounted units since departments embraced the horseless carriage. Among cities that have eliminated their equine units are Newark, San Diego; Tulsa, Camden, N.J.; and Boston, whose police horses dated to the 19th century and were regulars at Fenway Park.
“It seems like horses are always among the first to go when it comes to budget cuts,” said Michael Roth, a professor of criminology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Tx., who has studied mounted patrols over the centuries. When the Police Executive Research Forum issued a report titled, “Is the Economic Downturn Fundamentally Changing How We Police?” it featured a mounted officer on the cover. Supporters of mounted patrols mourn their loss; police officials value them, saying that when dealing with crowds, one mounted officer is as effective as 7 to 10 officers on foot. They are highly visible, officials say, and can deter crime, and their public popularity is a welcome change from the mistrust that many departments battle.