Deterrent to Crime:
The MPU serves as an effective deterrent to crime due to the high visibility of its mounted officers and their ability to quickly respond to problems in congested areas.
Enhances Neighborhood Safety and Livability:
The MPU’s high visibility, uniformed police presence creates a sense of safety for visitors, workers, and residents alike. The officers and horses of the MPU contribute immeasurably to the overall livability and quality of life in the areas they work.
Policing of All Kinds:
The MPU is used to enforce all manner of laws and ordinances from felony drug offenses and assaults to petty thefts and pedestrian violations. During the 1980s, when the MPU was at its peak staffing, they were able to make 30% of all misdemeanor arrests in Portland.
Accessibility With Citizens:
The MPU has repeatedly demonstrated the effectiveness of horses in creating a sense of accessibility between citizens and the mounted officers. They generate an opportunity for rapport between officers and citizens that is unique among policing strategies. As then-Mayor Vera Katz said in 2002, the MPU “puts a gentle face on this city.”
Currently,officers work a 10-hour day, four days a week, and are responsible for preparing and tacking up their assigned mounts prior to their tour of duty.
The Police Bureau employs stable attendants who take care of feeding the horses, maintain the horse barn, and provide basic training to new horses and mounted officers. The stable attendants also bathe and clip all of the mounts prior to the beginning of the work week, treat minor injuries to the animals and perform worming and inoculations.
Horses and Equipment
The horses currently used by the Police Bureau were either purchased or donated. The average purchase price is $3,000. The Police Bureau uses only geldings of various breeds, who are normally eight to twelve years of age when purchased, and are about 15.2 hands in height. The horses wear Australian stock saddles with saddlebags and a cantle bag.
The Mounted Patrol Unit provides its own training for both the officers and the horses. The officers are given about six weeks of basic riding training prior to actual deployment. The training of the horses varies with each animal, but basic training procedures are applied.
Horse Specifications and Qualifications
Solid colors (no off color), with minimal markings.
Minor blemishes acceptable if the blemish does not represent physical impairment or limit free movement of the horse.
Eight to twelve years.
15.2 hands minimum.
Weight of horse must be proportionate to the horse's height.
The horse must be broke to ride and neck rein. The horse must be capable of entering and departing a horse trailer. While mounted, the horse must demonstrate the ability to stop, turn, side pass, and back up with the appropriate leg, seat, and rein cues.
During the initial evaluation, the disposition of the horse will be evaluated. Undesirable disposition characteristics can include: biting, charging, kicking, rearing, bucking or obvious nervousness and uneasiness.
This area refers to the sociability of the horse. Specifically, if a horse is stimulated to do a specific act several times, the horse must not get mad and rebel. Rebelling in a violent manner is unacceptable.
An unsound horse can include the following conformation faults:
Loaded shoulder, bull neck, thick throttle, small nostrils, parrot mouth, mutton withers, roman nose, shallow-narrow chest, crooked forelegs, spavins, rafter hips, long cannons, puffy hocks or sickle hocks, improperly set hind legs, incorrectly set forelegs, obvious deformation of the hoof including cracks and thrush.
Suitable horses are accepted by the Portland Police Bureau on a 60-day consignment pending further evaluation by the Police Bureau's horse trainer and a licensed veterinarian. Prior to the horse being accepted for consignment, a physical exam will be performed by a licensed veterinarian to determine the soundness of the horse. If accepted for consignment, the horse will then be transported to the Portland Police Bureau's horse barn where the horse will be evaluated for 60 days. The Police Bureau can accept or reject any horse at any time during the evaluation period. If the horse is deemed unacceptable, the horse will be transported back to the consignor.