A New Type of Patrol
The police department is looking into putting more horses on the force, because police like the way the animals act in pressure situations.
"They're fairly stealthy. We can use them to sneak up on drug deals and things like that. They can also set up perimeters around fight scenes so that the ground officers can come in and clear them out," Columbia Police Officer Rob Sanders said.
The added intimidation of a large animal doesn't hurt.
"A lot of times when you have a big horse like this you're going to listen to whatever the person says who's on top of them," Columbia Police Officer Dianne Bernharde said.
That's why the department enrolled three of its officers in a basic mounted police course.
"I've been exposed to horses. They have pictures of me sitting on them in diapers, so I've been around them all my life," Sanders said.
The training isn't a trial, it's a perk.
"I love my job anyway, but this makes it that much better," Bernharde said.
Dianne Bernharde is training, along with her husband and two of their horses. Each of the Bernhardes' four children have a horse.
Officers and their horses used the kids at Benton Elementary for experience around a crowd. The training experience will help the Bernhardes and Sanders saddle up on the streets as soon as next week.
Horses won't be patrolling every day. Mounted police usually come out to help during special events. Police said, although the horses are well-trained, do not approach the officer from the horse's blind side. It's best to approach the officer from the front.