You've probably seen them trotting around at all the big events in Detroit, dressed to the nines and directing crowds of people. They are the Detroit mounted police. But, what does an average day look like for a mounted officer? What is required to take care of the horses? Michelle Oliver got a chance to do a ride-along and this is what she learned.
Oliver arrived at 8 a.m. and the officers had already done a lot of work. The horses were groomed and waiting in their stables for their officers to get dressed and ready. Speaking to Officer Garnette Steen, he said it takes them about an hour to prep the horses in the morning. Looking nice and polished is important for both the officers and the horses, so the horses are given a hoof treatment to make their hooves look shiny.
Seargant Muston then did a roll call and handed out assignments for the day. They like to go where there is a lot of foot traffic. Eastern Market on Saturdays and the Wayne State area is a popular beat. Oliver followed Officers Steen and Murphy for their patrol of Wayne State. Not long after they mounted their horses, Remmy and Andre, people started coming up to ask them if they could pet the horses, something the officers welcomed.
"It's a little different. I've never had anyone walk up and pet my squad car, but every time I am walking, somebody will stop [me], and want to pet Andre," said Officer Brandon Murphy.
The horses help the police build relationships with the community they are patrolling, something Sergeant Muston finds very important.
The Detroit Mounted Police started patrolling the streets in 1893. Sgt. Muston said they had a rocky start, but quickly got their footing and started growing. At their peak, the Detroit mounted unit had about 70 officers. In 2005, however, Sergeant Muston said the department was poorly managed and was shut down after over 100 years on duty. Muston saw the value in the mounted unit and wrote a proposal to bring it back, which they did in 2009.
The officers work a typical 8 hour day and will spend about 5 hours on patrol with their horses, with breaks. They all seemed very dedicated to their work and enjoyed talking to people as they walked by. One girl was so enchanted by the horses that she ran off to buy apples to feed them.
"Come say 'hi.' Come speak. We don't bite, unprovoked," joked Officer Murphy.