The Seattle Police Mounted Patrol Unit is downtown right now along with police leaders including Southwest Precinct Captain Steve Paulsen as part of big news for Highland Park (and the rest of West Seattle) – Zippy’s Giant Burgers may be leaving, but it looks like the SPD Mounted Patrol is staying. OK, Zippy’s isn’t part of the announcement, but just to keep things in context … The Seattle Police Foundation has committed to fund the Mounted Patrol, which has been headquartered next to Westcrest Park since 2001, for three years – but they need a little more funding from the public. The Mounted Patrol was scheduled to be disbanded entirely because of budget cuts (as first reported here last fall). We’ll have details of the campaign shortly; a website is up at saveourhorses.net.
2:58 PM UPDATE: The news conference to announce the campaign, by the stage at Westlake Park, was cut short by a downpour of rain and sleet (as you’ll see in this clip):
The Seattle Police Foundation is looking for more than $30,000 from the public to augment what it’s chipping in – and the Seattle Hotel Association is its partner in raising the money. The saveourhorses.net website is where you can go to find out about donating; once the downpour eased a bit, we talked with Sgt. Ballingham of the Mounted Patrol, who told WSB they’re “grateful” for the commitment to serve the Mounted Patrol and happy to be staying in West Seattle (which is their base, though they are deployed all around the city). Note that the fundraising campaign will pay for the horses’ care, food and support, while the Mounted Unit officers stay on the SPD payroll; at one point, it was expected they would be transferred to other parts of the department. (The Seattle Police Foundation’s executive director Renée Hopkins, by the way, is a West Seattleite.)
3:42 PM UPDATE: Added one more clip – SPD Deputy Chief Nick Metz explaining why the department values the Mounted Patrol. And if you want to read the official news release on today’s announcement, you’ll find it here.