KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Many people have seen the larger-than-life draft horses of KCPD's Mounted Patrol towering over large crowds, but department officials are now debating whether to keep them.
The KCPD says it is reexamining the role of the officers currently serving on horseback, and at the next board of commissioners meeting, the department could take steps to disband the unit, reassigning the officers for budgetary and personnel reasons.
Some of these horses in the unit have been interacting with the public for more than a decade. For people who love seeing the animals, it's hard to imagine an end to the Mounted Patrol.
Alice Lee Hollister is part of the group Friends of the KC Mounted Patrol, which provides funding for some of the Mounted Patrol's saddles and supplies at the stables near Swope Park.
Hollister believes the animals and their officers are some of KCPD's most valuable tools
“They're the ones that soften and create the rapport between an officer and community,” she said.
Currently, the city employees seven officers in the Mounted Patrol, with a little over $630,000 budgeted for the unit.
Ed Adams has seen the good the unit has done firsthand. He leads a volunteer mounted unit for Jackson County and also provides support for KCPD's units.
“I think it deters a lot of things that could happen, having the horse there really takes down that barrier,” Adams said of the Mounted Patrol. “This is a strategy of where to place police officers. asking are the Kansas City Mounted Patrol useful?”
For Hollister and others, the horses are a thing of beauty as well as a visible part of KCPD's presence in the city, and something she said her group is ready to work to keep.
“We will serve and protect the mounted patrol.”