Some leaders in Cincinnati think that bringing back the city’s mounted police units is the answer to decreasing shootings and other violence. Shootings in Cincinatti are currently at a ten year high.
According to WPCO Cincinnati, the mounted police unit was retired in 2012, when the city faced a budget shortfall of $34 million. At that time, the police department was spending $26,000 on the care and food for police horses and an extra $665,000 on officers that were working the unit. In 2012, the Cincinnati Police Department’s website described the unit as “an added dimension to policing: visibility, mobility and travel into areas not accessible by other vehicles.”
City Councilman Chris Seelbach tried to save the mounted unit. He presented a revised budget to keep the unit active and tried to get more votes for the cause from the city council. He said, “The mounted patrol is not only an important part of making Cincinnati a place to live and work, it also plays a critical role in bridging relations between the Cincinnati police and the Greater Cincinnati community.”
After a violent incident at Fountain Square this weekend, Derek Bauman, president of the Mason Police Officer’s Association, says it is a “good time for the city’s mounted unit. It needs to come back.” He pointed out cities such as Houston, St. Paul, and Cleveland as locations where mounted police units have been successful.
Bauman also posted “Police Mounted Units are also one of the best P.R. tools available. Everyone loves horses, especially kids…” on Social Media on Monday.
Seelbach also added, “We fought hard, but with continued deficits between $20 and $60 million per year, we lost this battle. I’ll introduce a motion when we return from summer break asking for the feasibility and costs associated with bringing them back.” In support of the unit returning, he points out that the city should see a $17 million surplus this year plus an increase in revenue, and that the police equipment from the disbanded unit was saved in case it was ever started back up again.
Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell says, “If the police department leadership would like to pursue mounted patrol, I am open to working with them to identify resources, whether they be public or private.”
Blackwell proposed a plan “to increase visibility, collaboration, increase technology, and efficiency and connect to young people” when he began his job as Chief of Police. Bringing back the mounted police unit is now a part of that plan.