KCPD’s Mounted Patrol will remain in place but shift focus toward violent crime

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Mounted Patrol isn't disbanding, but instead the patrol is getting a new focus.

For months the city has debated whether the patrol is needed, but on Tuesday there was an outcome everyone was pleased with.

KCPD Chief Rick Smith told the Police Board of Commissioners at their meeting that instead of shutting down the patrol, they've decided to have them spend more time focusing on what they believe is the city's biggest problem -- violent crime.

"That's the marching orders they've been given, and we're going to evaluate that as we go along and see what happens from that interaction," Smith said.

"I recognize that it is an issue of high energy for folks," said Leland Shurin, vice president of the board. "I've also said from this chair that I believe it to be an operational decision. And as such, it's yours to make and I support it, and this board supports it, and we support you."

After an audit by police back in May, there were questions about the effectiveness of the patrol.

It has seven officers that are mostly used for parades, protests and outdoor events. The audit found half of the patrol's time was spent tending to the horses, and that there was "no meaningful enforcement" from the group.

"We've identified what our priorities are in this department, and we give our resources the opportunity to meet those priorities, and I think that extends to the mounted patrol," Shurin said. "I hope to also be privy to empirical evidence or demonstration of how mounted patrol is furthering that objective."

Supporters of the patrol were happy with the development and believe it will allow the patrol to do more good in the community.

"With this crime and violence situation in the city, I think the directive for them to be more proactive as well, and being more on the spot, making more apprehensions, more arrests, whatever the vernacular would be for the police on being more aggressive," said Alice Hollister, chair of Friends of the KC Mounted Patrol. "I think it's a positive thing, and in today's world it's needed."

It's still not clear how the patrol will be changing their enforcement tactics. But they will continue with their regular duties of assisting with events and parades.

The department said patrols may be adjusted to proactively patrol areas with increased violent crime. Last year the officers did 40 patrols within the urban core.

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