Last month, the Calgary Herald celebrated the rebirth of the Calgary Mounted Police Unit. Headed by Sgt. Kelly Oberg, the unit has undergone a two-year transition period intended to ‘operationalize’ their role in the city. This transition took the unit from focusing merely on ceremonial or public-relations activities to becoming “a more functional part of the city’s police presence.”
“My marching orders were to operationalize the Calgary Police Service mounted unit,” said Oberg. “To remove us from just parks and pathways and get us more into an operational focus where we can impact crime in the community.”
Together with the skillful participation of Robin Koltusky, the civilian horse trainer hired by CPS, Oberg headed up the revamp from the ground up.
- The first order of business was to replace horses deemed “unsuitable for the unique challenges of urban policing.”
- The second was to oversee extensive training of both horses and officers in the unit.
- And because the unit now patrols more challenging terrain than just parks and pathways, the trademark black Stetsons have been replaced with white helmets.
The response from the public has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive of the changes.
“My perception is that the public absolutely adores the fact they have an opportunity to see the police horses,” Oberg stated.
Horse patrols can monitor a number of areas such as those closest to the river. Osberg notes the presence of horses plays a significant role in both stopping and preventing crime. “Our level of force is our presence,” who would want to mess with an 1,800-pound animal, anyway?