Portland’s mounted patrol makes its last ride - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland’s mounted patrol makes its last ride

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PORTLAND, OR (AP) -

Friday was the last day on the job for some of Portland’s finest after budget cuts forced the city to cut out the Portland Police Bureau's Mounted Patrol Unit.

For almost 40 years, the mounted patrol helped keep city streets safe, and horses Major, Monty and Asher went on their last patrol Friday.

At 12 years on the force, 17-year-old Monty is the veteran of the group and, until Friday, was partnered with Officer Melissa Newhard.

“Well, he looks out for me and I look out for him,” she said, describing the partnership.

There were once as many as 16 horses with the force, but those numbers have dwindled. And even though there were often threats to do away with the mounted patrol, the unit was always saved, until now.

The horses have been crowd pleasers, establishing a bond and trust between police officers and citizens.

"Well, they're animals and they love the affection,” Asher’s partner Officer Cassandra Wells explained.

They are approachable, they like people, they're presence deters crime and their riders say they've also been real crime-fighters.

“In Portland, we're dealing with a lot of car break-ins, car prowls, and on the horse, I can look over parking lots, and we stopped one that was about to happen,” Newhard said.

“He's learned, you know, when it's time to go, and if somebody runs away from us he can do it,” Wells added. “He knows when it's time to go into a crowd.”

Sgt. Matin Shell was partnered with Major, and still remembers fondly the early days of working with the animal.

“I have to laugh because I was on him when he did his first hoof pursuit after somebody, and after he arrested the guy, we found out he had a warrant for animal abuse,” Shell recalled. “So, a little ironic that he got chased down by the horses.”

These horses may be just fine in retirement. Portlanders will miss them, but perhaps no one will miss them more than their human partners.

“It's going to be hard to say goodbye,” Wells said.

Retirement plans still need to be worked out for the horses. Some will go to ranches, while others may become therapy horses. And while the horses are retiring, their riders will be back on the streets, now in squad cars.

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