Mounted Patrol Unit

August 21, 2009

Rookie "Mack" To Meet The Public

"Mack", the newest recruit of the Madison Police Department's (MPD) Mounted Patrol Unit, will be introduced to the public at a media event this coming Monday (August 24th).

The rookie will join the MPD's other horses at 12:30 p.m. for a training exercise to be held near the UW Band Practice Field - located on Walnut Street, just north of Observatory Drive on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

The MPD has resurrected a mounted patrol after a previous incarnation rode into the sunset a decade ago. That MPD Mounted Patrol Unit was very part-time. Officers owned their own horses, and would occasionally saddle up for departmental events. Former MPD Chief Richard Williams disbanded the group in the late 1990's.

Two years ago, under Police Chief Noble Wray's guidance, the department began to reconstitute a Mounted Patrol Unit, and now - giddy-up - for the first time in modern Madison history the MPD has a dedicated Mounted Patrol Unit. It is comprised of four officers: two are full-time during riding season, and two are part-time (the officers are assigned to patrol, but work mounted several times a month). As for the four horses: two - "Beau" and "Artex" - are officer owned, and leased by the City of Madison, "Mack" and "Xander" belong to the department - the first horses owned by the city in perhaps 100 years.

• "Xander" joined the MPD Mounted Patrol Unit in 2008. He is ten-years old, and was generously donated to the MPD by the Lusk family of Tony, Wisconsin.

• The rookie, "Mack", is six-years old, and was just recently purchased.

A nonprofit organization - Madison Mounted, www.madisonmounted.org - raises funds for the unit, and a portion of "Mack's" purchase price was covered by donations.

"Mounted Patrol officers provide a great service to the department and community, assisting with special events, crowd control, search and rescue, public appearances/demonstrations, and routine patrol work," said MPD Captain Vic Wahl, who oversees the Mounted Patrol Unit. Officers make frequent appearances at schools and community events, and provide a visible police presence at a number of Madison's special events: Mifflin Street, Rhythm & Booms, Halloween, Art Fair on the Square, etc. Mounted officers serve as great ambassadors for the department, and are instrumental in crowd control, particularly if there is an unruly mob; in those cases an officer on horseback is thought to be worth 15 on foot. Horses typically weigh 1,200 to 1,500 pounds, and are trained to work in a group - marching shoulder to shoulder - into large gatherings. As for routine tours of duty: mounted work is primarily focused on Madison's downtown entertainment district, particularly addressing bar-time crowds and disorder.

Contact:
  • Sgt. Chris Boyd:
  • Officer Howard Payne, 266-4897