Yesterday, I had a terrible day. I left the office, feeling enervated and disappointed. I had an emotional hangover. Not even chocolate was working to relieve it.
I walked through Starbucks to get to the sidewalk. As I opened the door, I saw something that cheered me extraordinarily: two police horses and their partners. I knew both officers, and both horses. While the Keeney Park stable was under reconstruction five years ago, the Mounted Patrol Unit boarded its horses at Day Lily Farm in East Windsor. My horses were there, too. I spent a memorable afternoon trying to induce one of the equine candidates to walk onto a trailer without having a panic attack. I failed. That horse flunked out of the program.
The officers and I had a pleasant conversation. They asked after my equine friends. Their own horses were in splendid health and condition, and most importantly, doing their jobs with grace and dignity. I told them that seeing them had turned my day around completely.
"The reason we're here," Marcel, one of the officers, said, "is that in two weeks, the city is going to shut down the mounted police program."
He didn't know whether he would be reassigned, whether the horses would be sold or retired, or what would happen next. He asked me to write to the Hartford City Council. I said I would. It occurred to me that I had an even better forum in which to plead their case than private correspondence.
So, here it is: a plea to the City Council.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am a fan of the law, and a horse enthusiast. As noted previously, I have a relationship with the mounted police force, and while I am not a resident of Hartford, I am here five days a week to work, and at other times for public events and entertainment. Though my words might not carry the same weight as those of a citizen, I respectfully entreat the city not to discontinue the services of the mounted force.
First, the horses. Not all of them, as we have seen, can do this job. My horse, Timmy, for instance, is afraid of his blanket … because it's plaid. Police horses are what riders call "bombproof." They tolerate popping balloons, gunfire, adrenaline, masses of unruly people, and profound physical danger with admirable aplomb. They do not refuse to go forward, no matter how difficult the circumstances. They have extraordinary partnerships with their officers. My horse won't let anyone touch his ears. Police horses stand quietly and stoically, while they are petted, kissed, fondled and examined, by people who don't know anything about them or their preferences. They inspire communication and initiate dialogue. They are compelling, brave, and beautiful. They fulfill the mandate of their human counterparts to protect and serve.
Mounted police officers have a special influence. They are instantly more approachable than their counterparts on foot, on motorcycles, or in cars. By virtue of having horses, they become objects of curiosity and respect, rather than of hatred or fear. Taking them and their horses off the street would demolish the hesitant growth of understanding between the police and the community. Law enforcement faces profound challenges in any city. The men and women of the mounted force create community outreach without even trying. This is police work at its very best. Their service reminds me of something a friend said to me once when I was comparing myself to someone else and emerging on the short end of the stick. "Yeah," my friend said, "But can she ride?"
These officers can ride. They should be permitted to do so.
Sincerely, Amy F. Goodusky•