New Castle County police unit in jeopardy

    The eight horses that often turn curious heads while patrolling the streets of New Castle County may soon be sent to private stables, in an effort to cut costs.

    The eight horses that often turn curious heads while patrolling the streets of New Castle County may soon be sent to private stables, in an effort to cut costs.

    For nearly three decades, the Clydesdales and Percherons have worked as daily partners to NCCo’s police officers assisting with speed enforcement, crime prevention and community outreach within the county. They are also used to assist in crowd control situations like the University of Delaware’s playoff football games and Harrington’s annual State Fair.

    The unit, currently stationed at Carousel Park in Pike Creek, is the last remaining mounted unit in the state of Delaware. The police department estimates an average of $150,000 was spent last year on the horses. However, the department is now reconsidering its presence in Delaware as finances for the program have been cut by nearly $90,000.

    Senior Sgt. Nicole Hyden is the program coordinator for the unit. She says she is willing to work within new financial boundaries if it means keeping the program running. “I am confident that we can run this unit for less than $100,000 a year,” Hyden says, “Which I feel is minimal compared to other expenses within the county.”

    Since 1981, the horses have been involved in covert operations in neighborhoods with illegal drug sales as well as issues dealing with burglary, prostitution and traffic violations.

    Not only has the unit’s presence been felt statewide but the officers feel they would be at a loss without the program. “They mean a lot to us,” Hyden says, “They’re not just animals, they’re our partners and we’ve depended on them for several years now.”

    The department is scheduled to make a decision regarding the future of the program sometime in the next few weeks. If the program is eliminated, Hyden says the horses will most likely be placed in private local facilities.

    The New Castle Police Department is asking for the public’s help to keep the program alive. Anyone interested in making a donation can call Senior Sgt. Nicole Hyden @ (302) 995-7610.
     
    Find out in detail what the Mounted Patrol Unit does on a daily basis:
    [audio: /delaware/090814mphorse.mp3]

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