Horses have assisted with police work for decades. In Fort Lauderdale, horses started police work almost 40 years ago, patroling crowds during Spring break.
The mounted patrol grew in size over the last 40 years, becoming an important part of the city. Larry Scirorro, the city’s new police chief, discovered how much the team means to the city.
Chief Scirotto said, “I made one mention of this in a meeting, and the whole city has lost their minds. So while he does not want to get rid of the mounted patrol, he wants it to keep up their work.
Scirotto said the mounted police need to continue to fight crime to make their existence make sense.
Mounted Patrol Team
The team has a sergeant and six officers on the human side, and they have nine horses: McCoy, Dexter, Titan, Thunder, Jester, Ford, Ash, Wolf, and Whiskey.
Most often, the patrol does daily rounds plus ceremonies and tourist events, according to spokeswoman Detective Ali Adamson. Officials state that the horses can do many things that an officer in a car or on foot cannot.
“Mounted unit officers are much more approachable to the public since they are not in a vehicle. It is often easier for people to approach an officer and for the officer to provide information. This unit is vital during special events, holiday weekends, protests and civil unrest because one mounted unit officer can be as effective as 10 officers on foot.”Detective Adamson
The Tough Questions
The horses live in a stable in Holiday Park, where they are fed and cared for. The department’s new chief said he is asking each team to show their worth, not just the mounted horses.
Sciriotto said out of the 530 officers, 197 are working road patrol. Every other officer is on special assignment as a detective or command staff. But, he said, “Are they luxuries or necessities? Are they the best use of resources? I have to ask those questions.”
Many other Florida cities use mounted patrols, such as Davie, Miami, North Miami, Doral, Coral Gables, and Palm Beach. However, other cities throughout the country have lost their departments to budget cuts.
If Fort Lauderdale cut theirs, they would save about $207,000 a year. It was even discussed in 2003, but the public loves the unit so much, they stayed.