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    New Haven police welcome newest "officer"

    (9/19/2006) The New Haven police department welcomed the newest member of its mounted unit to the force on Tuesday and is joining with NewAlliance Bank to launch a “Friends of the NHPD Mounted Unit” fundraising campaign to expand the unit.

    Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. supports expansion of the mounted unit, a tool that has proven popular in many cities, including Boston and New York. He would like to see the horses used for neighborhood patrol regularly.

    “Our mounted officers are immensely popular with the public and are valuable to our patrol efforts,” Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. said. “Through deterrent patrol, superior crowd control and other advantages, they allow police to move closer to the people they serve.”

    Chief of Police Francisco Ortiz said, “People don’t realize that mounted officers are no different than patrol officers. They are dispatched to calls for service just as are officers in cars, on motorcycles and on bicycles. We have found our mounted officers to be especially effective in calming situations and maintaining order.”

    On Tuesday, September 19, 11 a.m. on the Green, Assistant Chief of Police Stephanie Redding and her staff welcomed the newest member to the New Haven police mounted unit, a nine-year-old Percheron Cross that was donated to Patrol Officer Kim Roche by Greener Pastures, a horse rescue organization located in Salem, Connecticut.

    Redding, who spent four years as a member of New Haven’s mounted unit, has set up the Friends of the NHPD Mounted Unit fund and is working in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, inviting the public and horse enthusiasts to donate contributions toward Friends of the NHPD Mounted Unit. Paul McCraven, senior vice president of NewAlliance Bank, said the bank is opening an account for the Friends and is contributing seed funding to help get the ball rolling.

    Those who want to make donations may do so at any NewAlliance branch under the account “Friends of the NHPD Mounted Unit.” Contributions also can be mailed to Assistant Chief Stephanie Redding care at the New Haven Police Department, One Union Avenue, New Haven, CT, 06519. For more information, please call 946-6265.

    The New Haven police department’s mounted unit, which has a total of four horses and four officers who are trained to ride, began in 1983. The four original members of the unit were sent to New York City for eight weeks of training with the members of that department’s mounted unit. A successful fundraising effort will help the department purchase horses trained for mounted police patrol, along with equipment. The City pays for salaries of officers, feeding and care of the horses, training and other expenses.

    The purpose of the unit is four-fold:

    • Mounted officers are used in the same manner of patrol officers and are dispatched to calls for service just as are officers in cars, on motorcycles and on bicycles.

    • Mounted officers are used for crowd control during parades, demonstrations, concerts and bar closings, since each horse is equal to 10 officers on foot patrol.

    • Mounted officers are used for public relations functions such as school visits, since a member of the general public will talk with a person on a horse more readily than to an officer in a vehicle.

    • Mounted officers are used in a ceremonial manner at functions such as parades, funerals and inaugurations.

    Many cities have increased their mounted units, including Boston and New York City, because mounted police officers enjoy a number of advantages. They can see from a much higher perspective and from a greater distance, which makes them valuable in patrol and crime deterrence. And while members of the public may not always respond positively to a police officer, almost everyone likes animals, which can enhance the interaction.


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