Updated: 03/24/2014 6:09 PM
Created: 03/24/2014 5:01 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
The Duluth Police Department is getting some more horsepower this summer but not in a new car. Officers will be saddling up and hitting the streets on horseback.
At River Ranch in Esko, four Duluth police officers learned to giddy-up on Monday. They said it's fun, but Officer Amber Perterson said that doesn't mean it's not work.
“You think you watch people riding around, you know, they're just sitting there and everything. Well, they're not just sitting there. It's a lot of work. Your thighs are really screaming by the end of the day,” Peterson said.
She will be part of the department's new mounted unit, and the officers hope to be trained by June. Peterson said that will allow them to take advantage of riding their new partners at Grandma's Marathon.
“You have a very unique perspective looking down on the crowd and being able to see a wider array of people,” Peterson said.
But the horses can do more than crowd control. The officers said it will give them quick access to parks and other areas patrol vehicles can't reach. Officer Craig Lindberg said the horses are sure to have community appeal too when they go clomping down Superior Street.
“This makes police officers a little more approachable. They're not in a squad car and it's cool to see, and that's kind of one of the things. This is just another aspect of community policing we can use as well,” Lindberg said.
He said the horses all have unique personalities, which makes it easy for the officers to bond with the new recruits.
“Absolutely, he's your partner. You go to work each day and you two are working together every day,” Lindberg said.
The department purchased the horses from a disbanded mounted unit in the Twin Cities so the horses already have the necessary training. However, the officers said local groups, businesses, and residents helped them pay the $45,000 price tag.
“A lot of grants and we got some community members who donated money to us, which was so greatly appreciated. This is the only way we could have gotten our program up and running,” Peterson said.
The officers and their new partners will show their appreciation by serving the community that made the mounted unit possible.
It is more than a just a summer fling for the officers. The mounted unit is expected to work year-round as long as the horses can handle the weather.
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