Palm Springs police asked for donations today to save the department’s police horse program.
The Mounted Enforcement Unit costs about $14,000 annually to operate, and the price to replace a horse is between $4,000 to $6,000, said Sgt. Marc Melanson of the Palm Springs Police Department.
The department cut funding for the program a few years ago, and the unit relies on fundraising to care for the horses.
Because of the economic downturn, officers from the unit have been heading fundraising efforts, such as country-western dances, but the events have failed to raise enough money, Melanson said.
The horses can be a valuable policing tool, especially when police are dealing with large crowds, said Sgt. Melissa Desmarais, who is a member of the unit.
“When you have a large crowd or any type of gathering, if you are literally heads over the rest of the crowd, you are able to see people, you can see suspects. You can get places real quickly,” Desmarais said.
The animals also allow officers to have direct interaction with residents who would normally avoid all contact with law enforcement, she said.
The MEU was developed in the 1980s as a solution to various crowd problems with spring break students. The unit uses city-owned equipment and land to take care of the horses, according to Melanson.
Palm Springs police can be reached at (760) 323-8106.