Grant could bring back Minn. mounted patrol
By Peter Passi
Duluth News Tribune
DULUTH, Minn. — A $24,000 grant the Duluth City Council unanimously voted to accept Monday evening could help put local police back in the saddle this summer.
Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay expects to restart mounted downtown patrols with four horses in early June — one decade after his department discontinued its regular use of the animals.
While details still are being worked out, Ramsay said: "It looks like it's all systems go at this point."
Four officers are scheduled to begin horseback training in February, and Ramsay said the city has received some preliminary offers of donated horses. He's exploring potential space downtown that might be offered to stable the horses.
"We've had tremendous community support," Ramsay said. To date, the city has received tax-deductible grants and private gifts totaling $99,986. Ramsay spoke of one local woman who wrote a $10,000 check in hopes of seeing the city reinstate mounted patrols.
"It's more than quaint. The image that an officer on a horse generates is something that demands respect," said Rob Karwath, spokesman for the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, the source of the $24,000 grant accepted Monday.
The foundation receives numerous requests for support, according to Karwath, who said: "There are a lot of good projects out there, but this one rose to the top because it promises to succeed on a lot of levels."
He said the mounted patrols should heighten security downtown and foster a sense of civic pride that could encourage continued economic development.
"It is something that attracts people and encourages public interaction with the police," said Kristi Stokes, president of the Greater Downtown Council, which contributed $5,000 to support mounted patrols last week.
"I think it further projects the image of Duluth having a safe downtown," she said.
Ramsay said he anticipates the mounted patrol will require an annual operating budget of about $30,000 to board, feed and provide medical care for four horses.
Copyright 2014 the Duluth News Tribune