During my visit to the Columbus Division of Police’s Mounted Patrol barn, I learned a lot. The purpose of my visit was to gain more insight on the life of Willie, their recently departed equine officer, but in general was to learn about the department and it’s operations. I got more photos than I shared with you last week, and rather than let them fade from memory in my iCloud, I thought I’d share them with you too.
Their current location is the former Police Academy. The property now also serves as HQ for the K-9 Units, as well as the SWAT department. I referred to it as “the island of misfit toys” in a way, which got a laugh. The concrete block building known as “home” to their equine officers, was built in the early 1900’s for use by the refuse/trash horses, but never actually housed it’s intended residents. The refuse department switched to motor vehicles before the horses could be moved in to their new facility. The Mounted Patrol horses ended up being the first to live in the barn when it began in 1984.
Currently nine of the fourteen stalls are in use, and they’re in search of new horses to join the unit. They’re supervised by Sergeant Robert Forsythe and are staffed with six officers and two part time hostlers.
In addition to their daily activities, the horses are regularly trained for a variety of tasks to keep them fresh and ensure the horse and rider teams are on point when their training is put to use. They also travel for training to Washington DC and Mobile, AL. It isn’t all work and no play though, part of the training in Mobile included assisting the local departments during Mardi Gras, and leading the parade. Like their human officers, the horses not only have to perform their official duties, they also have to serve as ambassadors to the department. An example given was after the reporters and cameras leave the scene of a protest, it’s common for protesters to approach the Mounted Patrol officers and ask to pet the horses. This presents them with an opportunity to engage with the protesters in a calmer setting, and develop a positive relationship, to end the day on a good note. Allowing the public to view them as friend rather than foe, is critical to the mission of the team.
The facility is open to the public, tours may be scheduled through the Division of Police. You can find more information about them here: https://www.columbus.gov/police-mounted/
Joy stops to inspect my phone
Off-duty officers enjoying some fresh air
Willie’s BFF, Glory, pauses long enough to pose
Maddie, I quickly learned, loves the camera
A familiar scene in any barn, rows of equipment, awaiting it’s next use
Maddie again, and a failed attempt at a selfie. Did I mention she loves the camera?
Tools of the trade. Well-worn shoes with studs to offer traction on their mostly-pavement patrol routes.
Joy, ready for dinner
Mama taught me never show up empty handed (carrots, apples and peppermints for everyone!)
And that camera-loving Maddie one more time…