Dear Mayor Menino, A Proposal

Video about equine members of the Boston Police Department’s Mounted Police Unit seeking new homes.

Word hit the streets around Boston’s beloved holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. Then, the say-it-ain’t-so chill spread among horsey circles beyond Beantown.

Boston is cutting its mounted police unit.

As sister horse blogger Fran Jurga said in her eloquent headline: “Paul Revere Weeps.”

A city is losing part of its flavor and tradition. Not to mention a vital public safety element. And I’m saying this not just as a horse lover, but as a former police reporter, too.

The refrain we keep hearing, to  paraphrase former political operator James Carville circa 1992, is — It’s the economy, stupid.

At least, that’s the vibe I’m picking up from Boston’s mayor in the above video.

Mounted police units tend to be vulnerable to tough economic times. PDs will cut out the police horses from a budget before they’ll cut out a canine unit.

Maybe it’s because police dogs can live in their handler’s homes. Police horses need special housing, land (lotsa land) for off-duty time, feed and shoeing. In Boston, apparently, to the tune of $600,00 a year.

It’s the economy, stupid.

In the above video, Boston Mayor Tom Menino says that the situation is “irreversible,” but that’s not stopping some citizens from mounting petitions. Or continuing to sign them. Or from us bloggers continuing to write about it. Because —

It’s the economy, stupid.

What about donations?

I had asked on the Save the Boston Mounted Police Unit’s Facebook page why the group couldn’t be supported by fan donations.

A response ruled out the possibility of public donations.

But I say, why not? And — not only could it be supported by donations — but it could be a smaller unit than before.

That’s what Cleveland’s Mounted Police does. That its mounted unit is smaller may not be by choice – but there are still police horses in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Mounted Police

If any city has been subject to the slings and arrows of a fickle economy, it’s Cleveland, Ohio – right on the edge of The Rust Belt.

A recent look at the Cleveland unit’s website did look a bit odd. On the banner is the line For now one remains

What does that mean? Oh no. So, I found a contact email to ask.

A spokesperson thanked me for my interest and apologized that the site was not current. They have several horses, he said, although one recently had to be put down due Cushings disease.

But check this out. And, Mayor Menino, I hope you’re paying special attention:

“We raised a lot of money, and have paid all of the horse related expenses privately for several years now, and that is how the unit has survived.”

There you go, Mayor Menino.

It can be done. In a smaller midwestern city without a high-tech corridor, let alone the financial advantages that Boston has.

C’mon, we all know that Boston has always had more money than Cleveland.

A proposed plan of action, Mayor Menino

– By all means, reduce the size of the unit, especially the herd. Even if it’s only to a token group. The economy will bounce back. That will be time for growth.

– Mounted officers excel at crowd control and at maintaining a presence without alienating citizens.

– Open up the possibility of donations from the public. Even in these times, the generosity of the public will amaze and inspire you. Even people from outside the Boston area will be happy to chip in to support your police horses.

After all, if Cleveland can manage this, why can’t Boston?



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