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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Who Needs Robocop When There's the Ten Foot Cop

NY City is not what one thinks of when talking of horse and rider, but the NYPD has found the combination to be very effective for crime. Dubbed the ten foot cop one officer mounted on a horse can see a city block and effectively control a crowd like 10 foot officers.

"They can do more than a cop on foot, or a guy in a car," said Mr. McClelland, speaking from his ranch on the plains of Saskatchewan. "They can gallop through traffic, go the wrong way up one-way streets, and they're great for community relations. I mean, you can't exactly pet a cop car. Or a police dog, for that matter."

In New York, once paired, officers and their horses often spend the rest of their careers together. For example, Sgt. William McKay and Angus have been partners for nine years. Recently, they helped round up a group of men involved in a shooting. All it took was the approaching clippity-clop of Angus and few stern shouts from Sergeant McKay.

"When a cop on horseback issues a command, people tend to listen," he said. "I mean, I'm sitting on a thousand pounds of animal. It's also human nature to respect and fear a horse."
Having worked as a farrier for 27 years and studied ancient military history I can vouch for the intimidating nature of a man on horseback. Most horses weigh in at around 1200 lb. At the shoulder they stand around 5'4". They Walk at 4 MI/hr, trot at 8 MI/hr and gallop at 30 MI/hr. A typical man runs at 15-20 MI/hr. Standing in front of a horse trotting toward me I understood how the ancient foot soldier feared cavalry.

What is remarkable is the horse's instinct is to runaway. They must be trained to act in an offensive roll with a rider on its back. A horse who has confidence in the rider will do anything the rider asks.

On a recent afternoon, about a dozen horses, some newly arrived, some tried-and-true veterans, were put through "nuisance training," an ad-hoc obstacle course. Because they are highly socialized pack animals, the old-timers will often lend confidence to the rookies, which is particularly helpful when horses and their riders are forced to gallop across a blue plastic tarp, dash along an allée of burning hay, then made to march against a phalanx of hostile men waving trash bags and firing off air horns.

The idea, trainers explained, is to simulate the more harrowing aspects of city life: a gun battle, the possible mayhem of a United Nations protest or, say, the ugly aftermath of a Yankees-Red Sox game that spills out into the parking lot. (Attention would-be troublemakers: police horses cannot be thwarted by firecrackers, carrots or golf balls rolled beneath their feet.)
Not only that, but wood shampoo delivered off the back of a horse traveling 8 MI/hr has got to hurt.

1 Comments:

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Anonymous brokengun said...

Lances! Where are the lances?
Now that would be crowd control.

10:01 PM  

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