ORLANDO, Fla. — Citing operational expenses, a decreased workload, and the well-being of the horses, Orlando police Chief Eric Smith has announced the end of the Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit.
According to Smith, there are only two officers in the unit and four horses, two of which were scheduled to be retired soon.
Smith added that the horses are only used three to five times per year for parades and National Night Out.
“Since becoming chief, I have evaluated every aspect of the Department and have made some significant changes to improve the efficiency of the agency,” Smith said in a statement. “It came to my attention that the Mounted Patrol Unit resources were in question.”
Maintenance costs for the barn where the horses were kept also factored into the decision.
According to Smith, more than $220,000 has been spent over the last three years on renovations to the barn in an effort to make it cooler and safer for the horses. But those efforts were unsuccessful.
“After consulting with the Facilities Department, it became clear that we were unable to keep the temperature at a safe level for the horses,” Smith said.
With the renovations having “little to no impact” on the barn’s temperature level, Smith said the only other option would be to demolish the building and start over.
“Considering the well-being of the horses and a worst-case scenario of one of the horses dying, the increased financial impacts to the police department budget and the decreased workload for the unit itself, a decision was made to recommend retiring the Mounted Patrol Unit,” Smith said. “Although this was a difficult decision to make, it is the decision that is the safest for the horses.”
The agency’s Mounted Patrol Unit was founded in 1982.
The two officers currently assigned to the unit will be reassigned to OPD’s Traffic Enforcement Unit.
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