Seattle Police Foundation steps up to save West Seattle-based SPD Mounted Patrol

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

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 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.

17 Replies to "Seattle Police Foundation steps up to save West Seattle-based SPD Mounted Patrol"

  • MB February 7, 2011 (2:40 pm)

    Wait…what? I don’t even remember the last time I saw a mounted police officer. Maybe at a parade as a child, but not recently. I’m shocked to know they are in West Seattle and have been for quite a while. Are they out and about in Seattle often or do they just stay at the headquarters? I’m confused…

  • CMeagh February 7, 2011 (2:49 pm)

    I see them mostly down by the stadiums during events. I have never seen them in W. Seattle, but I have heard that they are based here, and have been for quite some time.

  • Al February 7, 2011 (2:54 pm)

    They are downtown all the time. I see them at least once a week, more often if a rally or protest is in the making.

  • MB February 7, 2011 (2:56 pm)

    Wow, crazy! I just read the prior WSB story about the horses. Amazing to me that I live 2 blocks from them and had no idea!

  • DJ February 7, 2011 (3:17 pm)

    They do training rides at Westwood all the time.

  • AJP February 7, 2011 (4:20 pm)

    Yay! They are just blocks from my house. I passed them trotting along the sidewalk going down Henderson a few days ago. Nothing like a horse to make a policeman approachable to normal people, and make a criminal think twice!

  • spdhorselover February 7, 2011 (4:42 pm)

    Worth saving!! I’m so glad they are starting this. I wondered why there wasn’t an effort to save the unit when it was said to be slashed. I will definitely donate.

    The unit has seven police horses named Justice, Harvest, Charlie, Tiger, Blaze, Jet, and Cody. They are based out of Westcrest Park in West Seattle.

  • LAP February 7, 2011 (5:41 pm)

    Hurrah! Thank you to everyone who wrote to the Mayor’s office and the City Council – to make sure that they know how much WE want the Mounted Patrol, even though they were sticking to their guns and planned to retire the Unit. Thank you to The Seattle Police Foundation and the Seattle Hotel Association for stepping up to save the Unit. I plan to get involved to find out what I can do to ensure we have the Mounted Patrol for a long time to come.

  • dancingkat February 7, 2011 (7:12 pm)

    It seems to me a mounted patrol presence would be a great benefit to Lincoln Park inlight of the current events there!!!

  • preschool teacher February 7, 2011 (9:24 pm)

    So happy to hear that one of our most favorite field trips will continue for another year. For the past 5 years I have brought a group of 15 preschoolers to meet and learn about the horses and meet the officers. Such an amazing experience.

  • WSRes February 7, 2011 (9:25 pm)

    I don’t think the city or any other organizations should waste their money on these mounted patrols. They are only useful for crown control and are very scary when they are used for that. I was once downtown after a concert and the police decide to clear the area. The horses forced me to move away from where my car was parked and created a pretty scary crush type situation for me and the people I was with. These techniques are outdated and have no place in our city. These officers need to grow up and ride horses on their own time.

  • miws February 7, 2011 (9:47 pm)

    So, what do you recommend the Police use for crowd control, WSRes?



  • RJB February 8, 2011 (6:57 am)

    I agree with AJP, I also see them downtown all the time. I love them! They would be a great addition to Lincoln Park…..great idea.

  • datamuse February 8, 2011 (9:10 am)

    I’m also interested in the answer to Mike’s question. Would you have preferred that they used cars, WSRes? Bicycles? Riot gear?
    I’d like to see them used in the parks as well, for which they’re pretty much ideal. They’re great for wilderness S&R as well, not that there’s a huge need for that in Seattle.
    I used to see them downtown all the time when I worked there. They’re great PR; people who normally avoided officers or treated them with hostility were curious about the animals and came right up to them.

  • Glendafrench February 8, 2011 (9:55 am)

    As you can see by the top photo, people really do approach and start conversations with the officers when they are on the horses. It is a truly great community outreach tool.

  • Mike February 8, 2011 (12:45 pm)

    They are incredibly effective at crowd control.
    Maybe WSRes wants the Segway patrol, since they can’t go over curbs they are ABSOLUTELY USELESS! I laugh every time I see them.

  • Dr. D February 12, 2011 (10:31 am)

    the new zippys is about equidistant from the SPD mounted patrol at WestCrest park. probably a little closer!


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