Disbanded in the mid to late 1980s and reinstated in 1995, the Tampa Florida Police Department Horse-Mounted Unit, led by Corporal Michael Morrow, has six officers and five horses. They engage in crowd control efforts centering upon college football and professional games. When patrolling parking lots, they ride in between cars and observe things that officers in a cruiser cannot. Car thieves, in the process of scouting out potential victims' cars, will leave when they see the horse-mounted officers. Cpl. Morrow explains that six kids were observed breaking into cars and chased down by his horse-mounted officers who apprehended three of them.
The unit also patrols the popular entertainment district of Ybor City that brings in as many as 50,000 people on a weekend night. As a result of the highly visible presence and patrol function of this unit, there is a positive impact on the quantity of victimization.
Chicago's horse-mounted unit, comprised of 27 officers and 32 horses, has functions similar to the Tampa unit, and it serves as a key component in protecting the City of Chicago. The unit was previously disbanded in the 1940s and reinstated in 1974. It patrols the lakefront areas and parks in the summer and the business district in the winter. The mounted officers are also are used for crowd control at sporting events and during demonstrations.
Similarly, the Atlanta Police Department Horse-Mounted Unit, comprised of 14 horses and 12 officers, is deployed to high crime and tourist areas that draw millions of visitors yearly. It was disbanded in 2002 and reinstated in 2005. The unit is used as a strong method of patrol for effective crowd management and demonstrations. During the NCAA Final Four Basketball Championship, some of the opposing fans chose to continue their battle in the streets, which could have led to some serious incidents and victimization, but the mounted unit interceded quickly and diffused the potentially volatile situation. Major Calvin W. Moss, who is in charge of the unit, views it as a "victimization avoidance unit" and acknowledges that an officer on a horse is equivalent to 10 officers on foot.
In Washington, D. C., Sgt. Raymond Chairs, of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department's Horse-Mounted Unit explains his unit is a standard patrol unit that is also deployed in high crime areas. "Crime drops to next to nothing when the horses are there. Statistically, violent crime drops drastically," he says. The presence of the mounted officers in the poor areas of the city has served as a tremendous tool for improving relationships between the community and the police. The unit was disbanded in 1926 and reinstated in 1973 under the leadership of former Chief and newly appointed Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Charles H. Ramsey. Like other units, it has effectively reduced the victimization that can occur during major protests, particularly when thoroughbred horses are present. "No one wants to argue with a 2200 pound horse," says Sgt. Chairs.
The Nashville Tennessee Police Horse Mounted Unit works a lot of big events, and the unit has handled over 600 events with as many as 2.2 million people. The unit is comprised of 12 horses and five full-time officers, along with five trained officers on call for special events. Sgt. J. D. Harber, who leads the unit, acknowledges his unit has made positive strides in reducing victimization. Our horse-mounted unit is a police resource. We use it every day," says Harber. He relates an incident that occurred at a Titan game in which a man used a forged $100.00 bill to buy a ticket from an individual. The victim approached horse-mounted Sgt. Harber, who immediately recognized the bill as a fake one. The victim provided a description of the offender to Sgt. Harber, who was able to find him in the crowd and arrest him.
Undoubtedly, horse mounted units are proven entities that serve a functional purpose with successful outcomes in the communities they serve. Their highly visible presence and the manner in which they are able to interact with members of the community, along with their advantage of height and mobility, make them an advantageous component of any law enforcement agency regarding their efforts to curtail criminal victimization.