In the last hundred years, gasoline and electric engines have replaced equine power in innumerable instances. But one place that horses are still a very real part of the labor force is in police patrols. Whether its park patrols, where horses can more easily maneuver wooded or overgrown areas, or crowd control, where horses provide an intimidating but not threatening barrier, modern technology has come up with no better answer. Recent research from the UK suggests another advantage of using horses for public safety – increased rapport and trust between officers and the public:
Police horses are useful for crowd control, but they also improve public trust in the police and help to build positive relationships between officers and the general public. This is according to research from the University of Oxford and RAND Europe.
Researchers analyzed the public response to mounted police units at public demonstrations, soccer games, a music festival and as neighborhood patrols over an 18 month period. The goal of the research was to observe the actions and impacts of mounted police units, to find out how the public perceives mounted police officers and to provide data on the costs and benefits of mounted police work.
You can find out more here.