Fresno PD's Mounted Patrol in Jeopardy

FRESNO, Calif. The Fresno Police Department's mounted officers are used year round, often seen at the Big Fresno Fair and at River Park for Operation Christmas Presence. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says while the horses' size makes them a valuable tool in large crowds, they are also used for public relations. Despite the benefits, the mounted patrol unit's future is now in jeopardy. "We've tried to do our very best to operate this program with the least amount of cost to the city of Fresno. Unfortunately, many of the funds we've used are now drying up, and it's getting more difficult to keep the mounted patrol," said Chief Dyer.

The department's seven horses spend their downtime in stables in East Central Fresno, on a property previously shared with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department. But the Sheriff's Department has already sold all four of its horses, and will now rely on a volunteer posse to conduct patrols and search and rescue operations. "It will probably be about $110,000 to $120,000 that we will be able to save, in salary, the facilities, and the maintenance costs of the horses," said Dyer.

The Sheriff Department's budget cuts mean the police department will have to pay more to keep its horses at the stables. While the city looks for another alternative, they've turned to the group, "Citizens for a Safer Fresno County", which helped establish the Mounted Patrol in 1999. From the beginning, the mounted patrol unit has been a community wide effort, using trailers donated by local organizations, and businesses also sponsored individual horses. Chief Dyer says that makes disbanding the group even more difficult. "It was one of the things that I didn't want to cut initially, but in our fiscal environment, it's a reality," said Dyer.

Dyer says there is only one half-time position budgeted for the mounted patrol funded by a grant that expires at the end of June. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says it will cost at least $35,000 to keep the mounted patrol for another year, but he remains hopeful it can be found in private funds.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.