Mounted Patrol


For more than a hundred years, the City of Seattle has had a Mounted Patrol Unit. The highly visible and approachable horses draw the young and old alike to an open conversation with police officers while discouraging criminal acts through their presence. The Mounted Patrol Unit is commanded by a Sergeant and includes 4 additional mounted patrol officers and 7 horses. In 2009, the Seattle Police Department’s budget constraints put the Mounted Patrol in jeopardy, until the Seattle Police Foundation stepped up to help preserve this important crime fighting tool. The city’s shortfall of tens of millions of dollars meant big cuts and unfortunate job losses. With money being frighteningly scarce, the Seattle Police Department had to make some tough decisions - the Mounted Patrol Unit was in jeopardy. Seattle was going to lose a part of its identity.

The Foundation stepped in to lead an intensive fundraising campaign to “Save Our Horses”, and provided funds to maintain the horses beginning in 2009, and through 2014. Without this critical support, the Mounted Patrol Unit would have been eliminated; Seattle would have forever lost a very valuable crime fighting and community strengthening resource.

Your support of Seattle Police Foundation provides clear, measureable results for making Seattle safer:

Patrol and Crowd Control

SPD’s Mounted Unit, similar to mounted units across the country, utilizes horses for their effectiveness and in crowd control. Some estimates show that a horse and rider can do the job of as many as 20 officers on foot, oftentimes with greater success and less injury to the officer or the perpetrator. The mere presence of the Mounted Unit has a deterrent effect on crime. Mounted officers project professionalism due to their uniform and mount, not to mention their skill on horseback. Being especially visible, citizens can see that their police care about their neighborhood. Enforcement, whether through presence, advisement, citations, or arrests make Seattle neighborhoods safer. The Mounted Unit patrols as needed, primarily in areas such as Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market, Bell Town, the Downtown core, and especially when there is a potential need for crowd control. There are many benefits of the Mounted Patrol in crowd control, including visibility for an officer to see over crowds, as well as for increased perception of police presence when a person can see an officer in a crowd. They provide mobility, many times allowing an officer to get to a scene faster and more efficiently than on foot or in a vehicle. In addition to patrols and crowd control, the Mounted Unit averages 35 call outs annually for large event management: Seahawks games, Bite of Seattle, Hemp Fest, Seattle Sounders games, Bumbershoot, and New Years at the Needle.

Community Outreach

Citizens who may not normally interact with police will do so with a police officer on a horse. Horses are ambassadors of goodwill and are highly approachable since so many people love animals and are curious about the horses. The Mounted Patrol averages 47 public appearances per year, including school tours, scout troop visits, and annual Picnic in the Precincts.