Boston Police Horses Relocated After Budget Cuts

The horses of the Boston Police Department Mounted Unit disappeared from Boston's streets as of June 30, the end of the fiscal year. The 12 horses fell victim to budgetary cutbacks needed to bridge a $20 million shortfall and avoid layoffs of uniformed officers.

Of the unit's 12 horses, four will be maintained by the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department (PCSD), three have been returned to prior owners, and five will be leased to the New York City Mounted Unit. An inquiry to the NYPD press office to confirm details on retraining or special transitional assistance for the horses was unreturned.

Boston police horses settle into new home

Two of the horses that moved from the Boston Police Mounted Unit to the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department Farm.

Sara Lavoie, public information officer for the PCSD, said their four horses arrived Tuesday, and are enjoying eight acres of pasture while in isolation before joining the other three PCSD horses. The horses will be used in search and rescue missions, plus occasional parades or other public events.

The Boston mounted force, America's oldest equine police unit, received service citations in a downtown Boston ceremony on June 25, according to Amy Derjue, communications director for City Council President Michael Ross. But it seems all is not yet written in stone; Derjue indicated that Councilor Ross is paving the way for Boston's beloved police horses to return.

"Contracts accompanying the horses state that when our financial situation improves, we can get them back," said Derjue. They're also maintaining close ties with the Brandegee Charitable Foundation, which leases an 1890-era stable to the City for $1 annually and has provided housing for the Boston police horses for the past 45 years.

The Boston Mounted Unit usually patrolled the greenspaces of Boston's Back Bay Fen, namesake of Fenway Park. The unit's officers will be redeployed, however their civilian staff, including nine hostlers, are out of work.

At least they can still see their horses occasionally. "We're only 45 minutes from Boston; our door is open for the officers to visit their horses," said Lavoie.

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Lisa Kemp

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