by OB Joe
I know I will receive flak for this, but I for one, am not at all sorry to see the San Diego Police Department horse patrol disbanded and the horses sold due to budgetary reasons.
Why? Because the police horse patrol was mainly used for crowd control and was constantly used to intimidate peaceful demonstrators in San Diego over the years.
I know the horses are cute and every kid – including mine when he was small -wants to pet them and every tourist wants to have their photo taken with them. The horses when they’re just standing there are cute.
But that was not how the police or the City of San Diego used them. Place a uniformed cop on top the large animal and place that rider and horse in a line with a bunch of other cops on horses – and you have a mighty intimidating front.
I have been in numerous peaceful anti-war demonstrations downtown where the mounted police followed the marches to ensure that there were no stragglers from the protest. The mounted patrol would follow close too, and as moms with baby carriages, or people just struggling to keep up, or older citizens with canes or even in wheelchairs would drop behind the main body of marchers, these horses would come right up to the stragglers and physically force them along.
The cop riders use their mounts with aggression and don’t stop for an innocent straggler. Nope.
A few years back, a number of anti-war protesters were actually stepped on and injured by the horses in Balboa Park.
It’s not like the horses themselves were mean. It was how they were used. A cop on a horse can quickly cover a bit of ground and has a great view. They’ve been used in Ocean Beach for patrol purposes, I know.
The mounted patrol began in 1934 in Balboa Park. It ended in 1948 but was re-established in 1983.
Today’s Union-Tribune ran an account that despite some last-minute fund raising efforts by civilians, the horses will be auctioned off.
It is sad in a sense, but then again, this is not the Wild West.