Tomorrow (that is Tuesday, June 30) would be a shameful day for Boston…. It is disbanding United States of America’s first mounted police unit. The AP report states: “(The Boston Mounted Unit’s) 12 horses would be given new homes — at least until the city can come up with funds to restore the unit.”

What a shame that the budget cuts would hurt this 136-year-old historic police unit. The mounted police plays a significant role in crime prevention and does high visibility policing. The on-duty cops on horses can maneuver through city’s narrow lanes and parks.

Why am I talking about Boston mounted police while sitting in India? As a journalist I successfully campaigned to retain the mounted police in New Delhi, India’s capital, and also at Chandigarh, a city designed by famous architect Le Corbusier, when these police units came under attack for budgetary reasons.

AP reports: “Police Commissioner Ed Davis told the Boston City Council he had to choose between animals and people in the budget, and chose to keep people.”

Really!!! Strange and sad that such a historic, ceremonial and functional police unit comprising only 12 — repeat Twelve — horses and men could not be retained while large funds are diverted for other functions that can be easily curtailed.

It was the same situation nearly four decades ago when the Delhi police wanted to disband its mounted unit that had repeatedly distinguished itself by meeting challenging law and order situations.
I was then a young reporter with The Hindustan Times, India’s leading newspaper.

My editor supported me and, finally, the Delhi Police not only gave up its disbanding move but also increased the amount needed for buying horses for its mounted unit. The salaries of the mounted policemen also went up, as also funds for maintaining the stables and the feed.

Similarly, in the north Indian city of Chandigarh, where I was working as Assistant Editor with the century-old The Tribune,
I campaigned in my newspaper highlighting the plight of the police horses that were kept with impounded cattle, captured while roaming the city streets (a usual sight in Indian cities).

Once a police mare became pregnant in that scandalous yard. I approached the city police chief (a fine police officer who happened to be a friend) and told him that next day I would be running a story under the heading “Police Mare Raped By A Stray Horse”!!!

He panicked and said that he would do whatever needed to improve the situation, if only I did not write the story. I extracted a promise from him that within a fortnight good stables would be built for the horses, the feed allowance would go up, as also that of the mounted policeman.

The then Chandigarh police chief, Gautam Kaul, kept his word. Today, after nearly three decades, the mounted police is the pride of the city. The mounted police also runs a riding academy and gives horse riding training to school kids for a small fee.

This helps improve police image in the public and is a good public relations exercise.

So why the Boston police is not looking for options to raise funds for its mounted police? It can even increase the number of horses to 30 or even 50 and run a horse riding academy on the pattern of Chandigarh.

Don’t forget about the mounted police’s real role. A policeman on a horseback becomes a great deterrent during riots and helps in crowd control. And, yes, then there are ceremonial roles that help improve police image in the public. More here…

The AP report adds: “Five horses will be leased to the New York City Police Department, four are going to the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office and three are being returned to their former owners.” More here…

And here…

And here…

SWARAAJ CHAUHAN, International Columnist
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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
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They are also absurdly expensive. They do look good and are great in touristy areas but let’s acknowledge the negatives. During a 8 hour shift only half is spent working as the rest of the time is spent readying, transporting, and caring for the mounts. They can’t be used in inclimate weather. There is also a huge liability involved when the public, almost none of which understands anything about horses, interacts with them. Then of course there is the money spent housing and training along with the time that takes the officers involved who could be working. Conservatively speaking I would think you could put 50 regular cops out for the cost of 12 mounted officers then it makes it easier to see why the decision could go against mounted cops. My city does have a mounted patrol (32 horses) but this is only possible through grants and donations. It is almost impossible for a modern US city to justify the expense otherwise.


Another blow to the whip and saddle industry.

This is why we need nationalization of ALL sectors of the business economy – to prevent such tragedies of cold, money-obsessed capitalism throwing productive workers into the streets.


“Anyway I would be happy to know how many millions would be saved by throwing away an American heritage …. that is 12 horses, and their mounts, from the Boston police force!!!”

I don’t know but since it’s that cities money why not let them decide how to spend it? That’s $600,000 and to keep those horses working they will have to layoff police. There will be less police, people losing their jobs, if they keep the horses. The city park rangers were also facing the loss of their 12 mounted patrol officers but $200,000 in private donations kept them alive.


So you like horses therefore Boston should spend $600,000 a year? ………. I think that completes this discussion.


Yes, whatever amount needed…Boston police horses need to be saved.

This US/World heritage could be saved, if only the US federal government could spend a “peanut” amount. Later, innovative methods/strategy could be used to raise funds for this mounted unit.

As compared with the scandalous bailout amount being spent on the American banks, insurance companies, car makers,etc. (without any punitive steps for those responsible for the financial crisis), the bailout amount for Boston police horses is indeed peanuts.

Unlike others, the horses (and their mounts and keepers) have not committed any crime but have been punished!!!

Please don’t forget that the US administration has spent trillions of dollars down the drain in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The same federal government can and should spend on heritage and culture.

Boston, let us remind ourselves, is part of the USA, and the Boston mounted unit is the oldest, and the pride, of America.

In the case of Boston mounted police, it is important to remember that the unit also performs useful law and order duties.

The American citizens/media have been a mute witness to years of scandalous financial/political excesses and profligacy of their administration/government.

To think that by doing away with 12 poor horses (who do not have a lobby or voice) the financial situation of Boston/USA would improve, I am afraid it is a sad commentary on a nation that once beckoned the most talented from different parts of the world.


“Unlike others, the horses (and their mounts and keepers) have not committed any crime but have been punished!!! ”

Well yes some keepers have lost their jobs but since you could care less about the cops that would lose theirs I hardly see your moral high ground here. As far as the horses none are being punished. Some will go to work in NY , some to the county farm, others return to their owners(they were temp donations). None of which qualifies as a punishment. And the horses have quite a lobby maybe they should of gotten off their asses and raised some money instead of complaining that someone else didn’t come up with the money. I assume you will be sending a donation post haste?

And now the Feds should pay? You are a little horse crazy arn’t you.


This is a very informative and interactive news site which gives a clear idea of what is happening over the globe