Worcester, Massachusetts, Welcomes New Mounted Police Unit

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Police horses give officers a better view in crowds when compared with officers on foot or in cars. They can go places that cars can’t get to. And they are incredibly effective at building positive relationships between police departments and the citizens they serve; everyone wants to meet the police horse patrolling their neighborhood.

For all their great qualities, horses are expensive to purchase, train and maintain. During the recession in 2008 and 2009, some cities dropped or sharply reduced their mounted police units due to budget restrictions. But some cities are finding that police horses are worth what they cost and bringing them back or starting new unit. One such city is Worcester, Massachusetts.

Worcester hasn’t had a mounted unit since the 1940s, but that is changing in 2017. The Worcester Police Department graduated its first 21st-century class of mounted police officers—seven of them—this week. The city partnered with the state police for a 10-week training session to give the officers specialized equestrian training. For some of them, it was their first real experience with horses.

“It’s amazing to see a group of Worcester police mounted officers riding so well when a few short weeks ago, we had some officers who couldn’t make a horse move all day,” Lt. Joseph Ashe told Worcester Magazine.

Besides learning to ride, the officers learned to groom and care for horses and received instruction on horsemanship topics including equine nutrition and psychology. The training will continue as the new mounted unit takes shape. They’re expected to begin active duty around Memorial Day weekend.

One of the key steps in making the launch of a mounted unit successful in Worcester was financial assistance in the form of sponsorships from local organizations. According to Worcester Magazine, Hanover Insurance on behalf of the Boys and Girls Club, the Patriots Foundation, Unibank, and an anonymous donor donated a total of $100,000 to cover the costs of the mounted unit’s four horses.


Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com

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