With new attractions like the Barons baseball field and the entertainment district opening soon, Birmingham police plan to start using mounted patrols in a more prominent way.
Having more officers on horseback is one way to increase police presence and decrease crime, especially when it comes to events that draw a large crowd.
Officer Dustin Brock has transitioned from patrolling in a cruiser to protecting and serving on horseback. He's one of the Birmingham Police Department's newest mounted unit officers and just recently finished his six week training course.
"Can't put someone on the street if they don't know how to control horse," Brock explained. "It could get the horse hurt or someone else hurt."
Police say soon the public will see more officers on horseback as the mounted unit plays a more prominent role in public safety.
"Wherever the people are is where we're gonna have that show of force," Sgt. John Callahan said.
Sgt. Callahan is in charge of the mounted unit. He says with new attractions like Railroad Park, Region's Field and the entertainment district, the city is preparing to better handle crowds at different events.
Sgt. Callahan says horses are valuable to police when keeping people safe in large crowds.
"They're very visible so the public is able to see and readily identify that you are the police. Also if the bad guys are out there wanting to commit crimes, they also know that we're there. Also you have that mobility factor of being on horseback as well, being above the crowd," he said.
Monday at the unveiling of the new police substation in the entertainment district, Chief A.C. Roper spoke about other new crime fighting tools.
"Our Skywatch tower...new vehicles are rolling in, so we're doing a lot to make Birmingham a safer city," Roper said.
Officer Brock says he prefers patrolling on horseback because the horse commands attention. Plus, they help keep police in control when large crowds get out of hand.
"They're good at getting crowd to disperse as well good at crowd control. You can take one horse and take the place of 10 to 12 officers," Sgt. Callahan said.
Right now there are eight horses in the unit and two more will be added soon.
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