Philly police set to try to revive mounted unit

PHILADELPHIA - November 4, 2010

For most of the 20th Century, mounted police were part of the department. Officials say they were especially effective in crowd control and helping maintain order during large demonstrations, like in 2000 during the Republican National Convention.

However, in 2006, the unit of 19 horses and 17 officers were given the axe due to budget cuts.

Now, there is an effort to bring it back as soon as 2011.

"A valuable asset in maintaining public safety and in the daily battle against crime in our city," said Mayor Michael Nutter.

"We have the largest park system in the country. We have a lot of places were cars cannot go but horses can go," said Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

City officials say it will cost about $2 million to revive the mounted police and they will be looking for donated horses.

State Senator Larry Farnese announced a $100,000 state grant to help. Comcast, 7-Eleven and Verizon are also kicking in more than $50,000.

The money will go to the police foundation, which raises funds for special projects such as this.

In addition to patrols, most agree the stately horses are good public relations in many neighborhoods.

"They are ambassadors of goodwill. You may have heard one mounted officer say 'Nobody came up to pet my police car,'" said Lt. Dan McCann, formerly of the mounted police.

To help donate to the effort, visit the website of the Philadelphia Police Foundation.

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