For the first time in more than sixty years, police officers on horseback will soon patrol the streets of Worcester, Massachusetts.
The Worcester police decided to bring four horses into the force because they offer unique advantages. They can help reach places inaccessible by car or bike, including wooded areas in the city's sixty parks. They can also make community policing easier, providing a conversation starter with residents.
What's more, Police Chief Steven Sargent said, horses — or "mounts" — are an effective force multiplier.
"In this day, with protests and parades, when there's a huge crowd, one mount can do what 15 to 20 [officers] can do, so two mounts, they can do what up to 40 officers on foot can do, as far as controlling a crowd," he said.
The plan was to have the horses on duty by Memorial Day. But Sargent said that's been pushed back by a week or two because the equine recruits need more time to adapt to a city environment.
In recent years, Boston and Hartford have gone in the opposite direction — eliminating horse units.