Horses in the Chicago Police Department's Mounted Unit assigned to crowd control during the NATO and G-8 summits will be outfitted with riot gear, just like the officers riding them and those on the ground facing off against protesters, says the Chicago Sun-Times. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration is soliciting bids for “police horse riot gear and training aids” in preparation for the May 19-21 summits expected to shine an international spotlight on Chicago.
The mounted unit has 30 horses, 30 officers and an annual budget of nearly $2.7 million.Police spokesperson Melissa Stratton said all 30 horses will be equipped with the new riot gear. She noted that the horses are “great crowd control tools” expected to provide “significant support to officers on the ground” during the summits. “This is not the first time we've had [riot] gear for the horses. [But] we are updating the equipment. We have had horses attacked in the past. If the horse is injured, it puts both the horse and the officer at risk. This equipment protects both the officer and the horse,” she said. An officer assigned to the Mounted Unit noted that some of the 30 horses “may not be street-ready” in time for the NATO and G-8 summits.