On June 1, 1999, Chief Mark Driscoll and the Police Commissioners authorized the formation of a "Mounted Unit." After reviewing the positive impact and success of Mounted Units in other communities across the nation, the decision was made to establish MPD's own unit as a component of the Community Policing initiative.
in 1999, Deputy Chief Robert Duffey and Capt. Dennis Glennon conducted extensive research on policing by mounted units and implementation of a mounted program. With the aid of police officers from other Mounted Units the selection of mounts was made. The original mounted unit consisted of Shorty, a dark chestnut thoroughbred standing at 16 hands tall and weighing 1,100 lbs. and Amigo, a dark chestnut thoroughbred / quarterhorse mix, standing at 16 hands tall and weighting 1,200 lbs. The two officers selected were Kevin Kincaid and Jim Ahern, to partner with Shorty and Amigo, respectively.
The two mounted unit teams attended training with the Massachusetts State Police Mounted Unit and the Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit, as well as a weeklong riding course held at UNH, specifically designed for Mounted Poiice. The training included daily care and grooming of mounts, equipment maintenance, to riding skills such as walking, trotting and cantering. Instuction also included police techniques specific to mounted patrol, as well as crowd control and riding in parades.
After completing the training, the horses were slowly introduced to city environment, acclimating them to the sights and sounds of a busy city. Capable of working in all weather and all terrains, the mounted units patrols the downtown area, parks, schools and areas not easily accessible by conventional means.
One of the main advantages of using a mounted patrol is the enhanced field of view that the officer has due to height advantage. This sight advantage gives the officers the opportunity to make observations of violations that might have gone undetected by an officer in a cruiser.
Over the years, the Mounted Unit has acted as goodwill ambassadors for the police department. The horses attract people stop by and pet them, invariably leading to talking with the officers. This interaction often leads to exchanges of information between the officers and citizens, thus having a positive impact on public relations and enhancing the community-policing initiative.
The Mounted Unit also participates in a variety of community events and often invited to participate at school, nursing home and community group functions. Each visit is tailored to meet the age of the audience. Any request for mounted unit presence must be made via mail addressed to the Chief of Police.