ABOUT MADISON MOUNTED HORSE PATROL
MADISON'S MOUNTED PATROL HISTORY...
The Madison Mounted Police Team was informally started in 1986 when six Madison Police Officers asked the Chief if they could ride their personal horses while in uniform in the November Annual Holiday Parade. The uniformed team was such a big hit that in 1987, those same six officers formed a working team to start training for on-duty police work with their private horses.
That year, the officers began riding in the city parks and in the low income neighborhoods. In 1988, the officers invited experienced Mounted Police instructors from New York and Fort Lauderdale Mounted Patrol Units to come and provide a 40-hour mounted certification course in Madison under the National Mounted Officer Training Association. The invitation was extended to other area agencies that had an interest in being part of the mounted team. The UW Madison Police Department, Dane County Sheriff's Department and State Fair Park Police sent representatives to the training. Those departments' officers continued to work with the Madison Mounted Police Team for the next six years, working major crowd control events in the city.
Once the team became inter-departmental, it was re-named the Madison Metropolitan Mounted Police Team. By the end of 1988, the "Mounted Team" as they became known, were riding regular patrols on State Street and in neighborhoods such as Bayview, Darbo, and Vera Court. They were also riding at UW stadium concerts such as U2, Genesis and Pink Floyd. The Mounted Team rode at UW Badger home football games, Halloween on State Street, Mifflin St Block Party, the annual Midwest Marijuana Rallies and other major crowd events and block parties throughout the city.
At one large Marijuana Rally on the Capitol Square in the early 1990's, several of the horses were badly kicked and punched by an out-of-control criminal who intentionally set out to injure the horses. The prosecutor was unable to prosecute the man for anything more than Disorderly Conduct due to a flaw in the State law against battering police animals that required visible and obvious injury to the animal. The Mounted Team set out to work with the District Attorney to re-write the law. Team members then testified at legislative hearings and got the law passed within one year. The Mounted Team was successful in getting the new law written to allow subjects to be arrested and charged for merely "intimidating" a police animal, slapping or hitting a police animal without causing injury and for hitting a police animal hard enough to cause pain or injury.
Sadly, the Mounted Team was disbanded in 1993 due to insufficient staffing resources to justify a mounted unit. However, in recent years, Madison’s historic State Street Halloween celebration showed everyone how effective horses can be when 100,000 revelers gather in one urban area. After riots a few years prior, the 2006 Halloween event was trouble-free, in part, because 12 mounted patrol officers were out on the street spreading goodwill and watching over the heads of the crowds to anticipate trouble.
With that success, in 2007, the Madison Police Mounted Patrol unit was resurrected under the command of Police Chief Noble Wray. Chief Wray supported having a supervisor and two officers train and use their own horses to start a patrol unit up again. To start the program back up, many of the expenses, equipment and care of the horses were paid for by the officers- similar to as in years past. Subsequently, a non-profit organization, Madison Mounted, was formed to help support the program so that out of pocket expense by the officers could be drastically reduced and hopefully eliminated with fundraising efforts.
Today, there are two full-time and four part-time officers and six horses. They work major Madison events such as the Mifflin St. Block Party, Fourth of July’s Rhythm and Booms, Taste of Madison and the late night entertainment district downtown. For larger events like Mifflin St. Block Party or Halloween on State Street, the City of Madison utilizes outside jurisdictions such as UW Madison, Maple Bluff , Shorewood Hills and the State Fair Park Police Mounted Patrol units to assist. During Halloween for example, with outside assistance, a total of 12-16 horses patrol the crowded downtown area which attracts up to 75,000 plus attendees in a six-block area!
In addition to their patrol shifts downtown, the mounted patrol unit works in neighborhoods, bike path areas and parks across the city on a regular basis. Covering a variety of shifts, the mounted unit can provide high visibility patrol to areas not easily reached by squad or bicycles and can provide quicker response than officers on foot. The heightened vantage point and the ability to navigate through rough terrain is a perfect job for the mounted patrol unit during search and rescue efforts.
There are many great ways to get involved with the Friends of Madison Mounted Horse Patrol. Click on the button below to find out more or to make a cash donation.
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The Madison Mounted Police Team was informally started in 1986 when six Madison Police Officers asked the Chief if they could ride their personal horses while in uniform in the November Annual Holiday Parade. The uniformed team was such a big hit ...