Historically, early mounted police units were deployed out of necessity. Poor roads and great distances between rural towns in France made horseback an effective means for law enforcement during the 18th Century. As roads improved and automobiles became the standard, mounted police were largely viewed as symbolic and ceremonial.
But in the 21st Century, mounted police units are seen as an effective way to navigate congested city streets. They are also effective units that can de-escalate situations that might otherwise turn violent. Although peace officers on horseback can help diffuse angry crowds, they place themselves at increased risk in the process.
What Advantages Do Special Mounted Units Bring to Crowd Control?
Law enforcement officials have widely adopted policies of dispersing mounted units when community members gather for peaceful reasons. Concerts in parks, parades, lawful demonstrations, and political rallies are ways good people come together for a purpose. Crowds also attract angry individuals and an undesirable element that would like to see the event become tense. Mounted units can decrease tensions.
One of the key benefits mounted units bring to police departments is a vantage point. The average height of a horse’s back hovers around five feet, and then you add the length of a person’s torso and head. An officer on horseback has the ability to see greater distances and look out over crowds. With an elevated sightline, mounted officers can identify pain points in a crowd and spot unruly individuals. Essentially, mounted units serve as reconnaissance teams that can gather better information and relay it electronically.
It may come as no surprise that bullies and miscreants lose much of their bravado in the face of an imposing presence. In schoolyards, bullies typically back down from those who stand their ground or are simply larger. The same holds true in adulthood.
Thugs are only emboldened when they perceive little resistance. Mounted units are generally made up of draft horses (1,400 to 2,000 pounds), quarter horses (1,200 pounds), or thoroughbreds (1,000 pounds). The sheer size of these creatures with a police officer in tactical gear is intimidating for most threats.
Special Mounted Riding Units Bridge the Gap Between Police and Civilians
Everyday people generally admire and adore horses and that positive feeling can serve a mounted officer well in terms of defusing tensions. For example, moving a horse steadily through a crowd creates opportunities for people to stand near the horse.
A group of previously tense people refocus on the horse and relieve tension. A mounted officer needs to do nothing more than position the horse in the right place at the right time and let nature take its course.
Horses serve as a natural bridge between residents and departments because they create an opportunity to interact in a positive and friendly fashion. This helps reduce tensions between people who may be wary of a police presence.
Reducing the Risk Assumed by Mounted Police Officers
Although mounted units provide significant law enforcement benefits, officers on horseback remain at risk. When crowds turn unruly, the most vulnerable officer is the one elevated above the fray. Violent mobs are more likely to target a law enforcement official who stands out and there’s no mistaking those on horseback. Police departments that deploy mounted units as a deterrent to unrest must also provide hardened protections for peace officers with riot gear that accomplishes the following:
- Protects Chest and Back with Hard Panels
- Includes Arm and Leg Protections
- Helmet with Face Shield that Insulates Against Head Trauma
- Maximizes Flexibility and Mobility
- Deters Sharp Object Penetrations
- Integrates Body Camera Capabilities
- Includes a Cooling System
- Provides Source of Hydration
Unlike riot squads, mounted police units do not necessarily enjoy the protection of shields. That’s why they require lightweight body armor and tactical accessories to prevent injury from bottles, bricks, and other hard objects thrown in their direction.
Contact Haven Gear
Haven Gear manufactures and distributes riot gear suits and accessories specifically designed for mounted police units. The lightweight mounted police riot suits weigh only 10 pounds and deliver the enhanced bodily protections officers require.