One of the many things I love about my city, Richmond VA, is our mounted police unit. (That’s not to say I love the tickets I’ve gotten from them in years past, but then again I look at parking tickets and overdue library fines the same way – a little extra something in the community chest. Think what would happen to the city’s revenue if EVERYBODY moved their cars after two hours or turned their books in on time. Plus, it’s actually kind of fun to accept a ticket from a great looking guy or gal on a horse. What’s that word they use in New Orleans for an unexpected treat? Right. Lagniappe. A ticket from a horse cop…sort of a Richmond lagniappe. )
Today hundreds of people turned out to meet three new geldings that have been donated to the Richmond police force. With the introduction of Beau, Turbo Diesel, and Howie the mounted squad doubles from three to six horses. Hooray for our new horse-friendly police chief, Bryan Norwood!
In our city, community policing is important, and the horse squad seems like a fantastic way to build trust and relations with city residents. One of the officers I spoke with today said that every time he goes out with Raleigh, a spotted draft, people just swarm up to them wanting to talk or pat Raleigh.
The big crowd and good vibe of today’s “open barn” shows how horses can create a friendly bridge between the public and the police department. This afternoon, officers taught kids how to feed horses carrots and happily answered questions about their work and their equine partners.
Mostly, I’ve seen the mounted squad downtown. Today, I learned that the squad also keeps a presence at Stony Point Fashion Park during the Christmas season, Carytown on New Year’s Eve, Bryant Park, Byrd Park, Shockoe Bottom, and The Fan. You know, I bet police horses are great for working festivals, too. If one of the keys to crowd control is keeping everyone chilled out, then it seems like the presence of horses probably makes for happier events.
Speaking of events, the Friends of the the Richmond Mounted Squad (FRMS) will sponsor their 2009 FRMS Fun & Pleasure show on August 16, 2009 at Dorey Park (in Henrico County). The show starts at 9:00 a.m. and includes thirty-six Hunter, Western, and fun classes.