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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They will now be a familiar sight in Downtown Pittsburgh, keeping the peace and keeping crowds under control at events around the city.
After a 15-year hiatus, police horses are back on the force in Pittsburgh.
Officer Justin Susich is one of four full-time officers assigned to the new mounted patrol. Max is one of the six new horses.
The mounted patrol is back thanks to a commitment from the city, and donations from organizations and citizens.
“Stephon Tuitt, from the Pittsburgh Steelers, bought a horse and donated it to us,” said Pittsburgh Police Cmdr. Ed Trapp, of the Special Deployment Division.
To get the unit up and running, there has been lots of training for both the officers and the horses.
“Very demanding physically and mentally,” said Officer Susich. “Sewer grates, basketballs anything you can think of that wouldn’t scare them, scares them. Every single day we are out with them is training.”
The horses will be used to build community relations. Studies have shown that people are more likely to approach an officer on a horse than an officer on foot.
“Just standing here, people will come up to you and you get that good interaction,” said Officer Susich.
The horses will also be used to disperse crowds.
“People will move out of the way of a horse,” said Cmdr. Trapp.
You will now see them at any number of events happening in the city.
“If you have to move a crowd, one horse is worth 10 police officers just by their size,” Cmdr. Trapp said.
To handle city life, the horses all have special shoes, specifically made for concrete.
Max and his friends will be city residents, eventually calling Riverview Park, just four miles north of downtown, home.