Officers who serve as mounted police are among the most respected and visible members of the law enforcement community. These officers serve in critical roles in many local, state and federal agencies. These officers provide unique capabilities to these organizations. Mounted officers are faster and can sustain a chase longer than foot patrols, while being more maneuverable than vehicles on congested roads. These officers and their equine partners are also excellent for community outreach, as these majestic animals are very appealing to children and families.
Mounted police also provide important advantages in situations where visibility is important. Mounted units usually police large gatherings because the elevated position allows a wider area of visibility. The enhanced visibility also alerts individuals in crowds to the presence of law enforcement. Mounted units also provide added mobility in areas like parks and tightly-packed urban areas where cars would be unable to operate.
Mounted Police Job Description
Mounted police must be able to perform the following jobs:
- Complete a long, involved training program for equine management
- Understand the limitations of mounts
- Pursue fleeing individuals on horseback
- Control mounts while in a formation or parade
- Conduct patrols of fairs, concerts or other outdoor gatherings
- Disperse rioting crowds
How to Become a Mounted Police Officer
To become a mounted police officer, one must first join a police department with a mounted unit. Many large metropolitan police departments utilize mounted units but the competition to join these prestigious groups can be fierce. Although most departments only require a high school diploma, many police candidates find that an associate’s or bachelor’s degree can provide a competitive advantage in the hiring process. Furthermore, candidates should be in excellent health and be able to complete sprints, long distance runs, and sets of exercises within competitive times.
Once hired, recruits must complete the police academy training, which involves a rigorous classroom schedule as well as a very demanding physical training program. The basic training programs may last between four and six months.
New recruits must first serve on traditional patrol units utilizing cruisers or motorcycles for a minimum of two years in most jurisdictions. After completing the probationary period, officers may request a transfer to the Mounted Unit. Only a handful of officers are selected to serve in these highly visible teams, so obtaining prior experience with horses and additional instruction in related law enforcement issues like crowd control, equine pursuit and park patrols.
If selected, a mounted police officer may receive up to 400 hours of additional training. This training will include how to manage and care for the equine partner, strengths and limitations of horses in law enforcement operations, appropriate use in crowd control and marching in parades or demonstrations.
Mounted Police Salary
Mounted police officers typically receive salaries similar to those of other police officers with equivalent experience and responsibilities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2010, the average annual salary for police officers was $55,010. This figure may vary depending upon geographical location, seniority, and education.