KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The future of Kansas City's mounted patrol division is still uncertain.
The department is exploring the idea of eliminating the mounted patrol in order to put more officers on the street to address the increase in violent crime.
At a Police Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning, KCPD Chief Rick Smith said there's more violent crime this year than in years past. He expressed a need to find the right balance to address the problem, and use KCPD's resources in the most effective manner.
According to KCPD, the mounted patrol's duties are crowd control, crime control/deterrence and community relations.
Commissioners at the meeting said since a decision about mounted patrol is an operational issue, the chief has the ability to make the final decision. But before a decision is reached, both the chief and the commission heard more than a dozen people speak in support of the mounted patrol at a public hearing.
Supporters said the horses give police a better vantage point. They also said horses make officers more approachable and help build trust and positive interactions with police. Those supporters said those positive interactions are invaluable and can't be quantified.
Retired mounted patrol officers and members of the Jackson County Mounted Posse were among those who spoke in favor of the division.
The division started in 2006 with help from the nonprofit, Friends of KC Mounted Patrol. Since its inception, the group raised more than $450,000 for for the officer and horse needs.
But according to KCPD, the mounted patrol costs more than $600,000 annually to run, which is 0.27% of the total police budget.
There's not a date yet for when Smith will make a decision.