Seattle Police Foundation and public stepping up to “Save our Horses”

For over a hundred years the Seattle Police Department has had a Mounted Patrol Unit. Police officers working on horseback, performing basic police functions such as maintaining the peace, enforcing laws and ordinances, and protecting life and property. Mounted Officers are used in situations requiring mobility, especially in the 5,000 plus acres of City parks and other areas with limited vehicle access. They have proven successful in patrolling business districts and neighborhoods, including high crime areas. They are highly visible, approachable and draw the young and old alike to an open conversation with officers while discouraging criminal acts through their presence.

The horse teams are highly adaptable and work to create a force multiplier effect, enhancing the strategies of the bike and foot officers working crowd-containment situations.  

The Mounted Patrol is led by a sergeant and consists of four police officers and a civilian stable manager. The unit has seven police horses named Justice, Harvest, Charlie, Tiger, Blaze, Jet, and Cody.

The city’s shortfall of tens of millions of dollars meant big cuts and even job losses. With money being frighteningly scarce, the Mounted Patrol unit was on the chopping block. That is until the Seattle Police Foundation (SPF) stepped in.

Seattle Police Foundation recognizes that the Seattle Police Department, with more than 90% of its annual budget going to support personnel costs, has very little flexibility to seed new programs and encourage innovation.  The Foundation utilizes the generous contributions of fellow citizens to enhance the Seattle Police Department’s efforts.

The Seattle Police Foundation started exploring the idea of saving the mounted unit late last year. After extensive discussion to ensure they would be able to offer the Police Department the opportunity to bridge the gap caused by the current financial situation in the City, the Foundation decided to commit to three years of support to maintain the Mounted Unit. Funding will provide care, food and support for the horses. The Mounted Unit officers remain on the City budget.

The Seattle Police Foundation has identified funding for 2 of the 3 year commitment thanks to a partnership with the Seattle Hotel Association.  Today the SPF is launching a public campaign to assist in raising the final 30% of funding. SPF is excited to offer an opportunity for the Seattle public to show its support for this important legacy and legitimate law enforcement tool.

“The Seattle Police Mounted Unit plays an important role in fighting crime, reducing fear and helping build stronger communities. They are perhaps one of the best community ambassadors the Seattle Police Department has. We are happy to help support a safe Seattle by supporting the Mounted Unit.” Renée Hopkins, Seattle Police Foundation Executive Director.

Sam Baker, SPF Chairperson said “The Seattle Mounted Unit has a long history of serving our city. The citizens of Seattle cannot let the current economic environment eliminate such history.  It’s a wonderful thing that we have the Seattle Police Foundation that is prepared to step in and bridge this financial gap.”

Howard Cohen, Seattle Hotel Association “We are proud to be partnering with the Seattle Police Foundation in its efforts to keep our city safe. The Mounted Unit is just one of many programs that we will be able to impact as a result of this partnership.”

The Seattle Police Foundation has been supporting public safety initiatives in partnership with the Seattle Police Department for the past ten years. During that time more than 200 programs have been funded in areas of community partnership, specialized training, employee development, and cutting edge equipment and technology. For more information about the Seattle Police Foundation, please visit www.seattlepolicefoundation.org .

To learn more about the SPD Mounted Unit and the Save Our Horses campaign, please visit www.saveourhorses.net or call the SPF at 206-684-0373.

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