INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- When you see these officers on the street, it’s hard to miss them. The IMPD Mounted Patrol Unit helps manage crowds, secure big events and patrol our trails and neighborhoods.
They spend hundreds of hours riding out in the community, but in order to do that, many hours are spent training behind the scenes.
IMPD Officer Lorie Phillips is training to become part of the unit right now.
“A lot of people, when I tell them we have to get 400 hours, they say why do you need 400 hours? But you have to remember these are animals with their own mind. Our biggest horse in the barn, Nev, is 1,900 pounds,” Phillips said.
Officers also have to make sure the horses are looking their best, grooming and washing them on a regular basis.
Officer Ivy Craney has 30 years of experience with horses. After spending a decade patrolling in a squad car, she’s witnessed the difference these horses can make.
“You do come across parts of the community that don’t necessarily have a great relationship with the police and sometimes it is hard, as an officer in a car, to get out and really talk to the community. When we go out and patrol, we try and pick neighborhoods where you wouldn’t normally see the horses. It’s a great bridge to the community and it’s a fun part of the job, it really is, you see the good,” Craney said.
In a crowd management situation, officers say one horse is equal to 10 officers on the ground.
“They’re gentle giants, but they also know when it’s time to work, and that could be pushing crowds or holding a line when we’re at big events,” Craney said.
Handling big events and crowds isn’t easy for every horse. It takes a special horse to do the job and hundreds of hours of preparation and training with the officers.
“The behind the scenes stuff, the rough days, falling off, getting beat up, being bruised and being sore -- it’s all at the beginning, to make our final product what we present out to the public where it looks like we’re doing nothing,” said Mounted Patrol Unit Commander Sergeant Allan Whitesell.
The unit is currently in need of a permanent home, something they’ve been working on for more than 30 years. Right now, their offices are housed inside former construction trailers that were donated 14 years ago.
The unit is supplemented by the IMPD Horse Patrol Association, a nonprofit that helps them pay for the horses, training, supplies and more. They have plans to build a barn and permanent home. For more information on ways to help, click here.
You can also help at their next fundraiser called “Polo at Sunset” on August 25th at Hickory Hall Polo Club in Whitestown. Gates open at 4 p.m. and matches start at 6 p.m. For more information, click here.