I've seen mounted police around Venice Beach before, but I was a little surprised to see them as I crossed Lincoln at Rose. Lincoln's a major four lane urban street - it's Highway 101's route through parts of LA before it gets back to the coastline. But there they were, closing in on what appeared to be a homeless man with a stuffed shopping cart (upper right.)
The LAPD website says their
The full-time Mounted Platoon was established in 1987 as a component of the elite Metropolitan Division and is currently composed of 35 full-time sworn police personnel consisting of 1 Lieutenant, 4 Sergeants and 30 Police Officers. City funds were allocated for the purchase of 40 horses to be used by the officers during the performance of their field duties. Also purchased through funds donated by the Ahmanson Foundation were a fleet of 8 trucks and trailers to transport the officers and their mounts to the various details, and a state-of-the-art police equestrian center appropriately named "The Ahmanson Equestrian Facility." The two-acre Ahmanson Equestrian Facility consists of:"Hot" in the last item refers, not to the person walking the horse, but, according to Wikipedia, to
- A forty-horse barn
- Administrative offices
- Locker rooms
- Workout facility
- Covered riding arena
- Hot walker, round pen, and necessary training equipment
"hot, sweaty horses after a workout, particularly after work on a racetrack."In this case it refers to a mechanical walker.
But what were the cops doing in a busy traffic area? Here are the duties for the Mounted Platoon according to the website:
General duties of the Mounted Platoon
Demonstrations - The Mounted Platoon is used regularly at the scene of demonstrations and unruly assemblies. Over the years, squad tactics have been developed to work in concert with officers on foot, enabling the Los Angeles Police Department to control large groups of protesters in a firm yet professional manner.
Crowd Management - The Mounted Platoon is deployed frequently in crowd management situations where large groups have gathered for festivals and parades. The appearance of the Mounted Platoon at these functions provides visible security and a sense of assurance.
Crime Suppression - The Mounted Platoon provides high-profile crime suppression in targeted crime areas. Mounted officers offer an increased level of visibility to both the criminal element and to the community at large. The officers are deployed throughout the City and at various hours.
Additional Mounted Platoon duties include public park enforcement, public beach enforcement during the summer months, and search and rescue of lost or missing persons in mountainous and dense terrain areas of the City of Los Angeles.
Well, since there was no demonstration, no large crowds, and it wasn't in mountainous terrain, I'm guessing it had to be crime suppression. So, this intersection I bike through daily when visiting my mom is a targeted crime area? Were they just patrolling the area on horseback or were they looking for something or someone in particular?
I would imagine there's a different sort of reaction when someone is approached by cops on horseback than there is when a police car pulls up.
Trying to find out how horses affect the people police apprehend got me to some interesting findings. KRS-One equates overseer to officer in this video - lyrics of the chorus below.
KRS-One lyrics to "Sound of Da Police"
Officer, Officer, Officer, Officer!
Yeah, officer from overseer
You need a little clarity?
Check the similarity!
The overseer rode around the plantation
The officer is off patroling all the nation
The overseer could stop you what you're doing
The officer will pull you over just when he's pursuing
The overseer had the right to get ill
And if you fought back, the overseer had the right to kill
The officer has the right to arrest
And if you fight back they put a hole in your chest!
(Woop!) They both ride horses
After 400 years, I've _got_ no choices!
The police them have a little gun
So when I'm on the streets, I walk around with a bigger one
(Woop-woop!) I hear it all day
Just so they can run the light and be upon their way
This article from The Nation's article on the use of horses at Occupy Wall Street seems to demonstrate the lyrics:
At least a dozen officers on horseback entered the barricaded area soon after demonstrators arrived. For a time, the horses simply stood before the crowd, not doing very much. Then, a so-called “white-shirt”—a high-ranking officer on foot —suddenly removed one section of the barricade and guided a horse directly into the crowd. The mounted officer spurred his horse forward, ramming demonstrators, and the scene quickly descended into chaos. A chant of “animal cruelty” broke out, and people were clearly frightened for their safety: horses can inflict serious harm, especially in volatile, high-density situations.
Video footage of the incident shows that at least one of the horses attempted to turn and retreat, according to Barbara Lynn Sherman, a professor at North Carolina State University with expertise in equine behavior. Professor Sherman examined the footage at The Nation’s request. The animal appeared to either slip or momentarily “spook,” Sherman said, “a common response in horses, particularly when startled in response to fearful stimuli.” In fact, she added, police horses are specifically trained to avoid the “spook” reaction while on duty.
Did the NYPD abuse its horses by bringing them into the situation? Peter Singer, the Princeton philosopher and author of Animal Liberation, a landmark 1975 treatise on the rights of non-human organisms, calls it “unethical.” Reviewing the footage, he says, “At least one (horse) appears to be forced to do something—charge into the crowd—that it tries very hard to avoid.”