Horses are extremely effective tools in many aspects of police work and the Mounted Unit is both an aid to positive community relations and a practical approach to specific law enforcement problems.
Police officers on horseback are highly visible to the public, which results in increased crime deterrence and enhanced public safety. With their added height, horses also provide increased visibility for the mounted officers, while the presence of the horses makes the individual officer more approachable by the campus public and less isolated than they would be in patrol cars.
Mounted officers provide a range of services. They are able to handle to complaints and medical emergencies, work traffic details and traffic enforcement, provide crowd control, patrol the less accessible areas of campus, act as a crime deterrent, and enforce laws.
The UMPD Mounted Unit currently consists of two full-time horses and one part-time horse that work during the academic year only. The full-time horses are Miller, a 5-year-old Belgian gelding and Macintosh, an 18-year-old Belgian mare. The part-timer is Zip, a 9-year-old Paint.
As with other UMPD specialized units, officers may request to serve with the Mounted Unit. They receive various levels of training depending on their previous equestrian experience. Officers who have limited skills in horsemanship participate in a rigorous year-long training program while riders with experience participate in an abbreviated training regimen.
The mounted training program consists of basic and advanced horsemanship skills such as riding, leading, tying, tack, grooming, bathing, feeding, trailering and hauling, as well as equine health care issues. The unit’s officers are also taught the essentials of horse-mounted operations in crowd control, civil unrest, search and rescue, and other relevant areas.