|I read in the Duluth News Tribune that the Duluth Police Department is disbanding their mounted patrol because of budget problems. Since starting the Duluth Shipping News 22 years ago, I have taken 1,000’s of pictures of boats in Duluth. I have tried to make my specialty pictures of boats and people; the people on the boats, and the folks watching them from shore. One of my favorites is getting one with a boat coming in and a Dad holding his child on his shoulder while she waves to the boat.|
|It took me a long time to get a picture with the Duluth mounted patrol in front with a boat in the background. One day, I looked out my window and saw 2 members of the patrol. I ran out, took some pictures and even asked them to stop for a moment while I got horses, riders and boat in the picture.|
|I like that picture but what I like even more was talking to the police as if they were people like me, citizens of Duluth each doing our thing. My habit when I saw police while driving was to tap the brakes hoping they would not see my brake lights, or worse, stop me for speeding, or for having a broken tail light or whatever. I have never had a normal conversation with a cop. I always figured they might get suspicious or that they were on a big case and would not appreciate being interrupted. But it always seemed like a cop on a horse was more approachable and I had several nice conversations with them over the years.|
|One day, I saw 4 horses pulling a stage-coach through Canal Park. Later that day, I approached a cop on a horse and asked him if he had seen it. He told me he had heard about it but had not seen them. I asked him if they got a call that someone had committed a crime and they were escaping on a stage coach, would they go after them on horse back. And when they caught up to them, would they pull up to the lead horse and jump onto it and pull the stage-coach to a stop. I had seen that happen in every cowboy movie I ever saw.|
|Now that I know the police because I see them close-up on horses, I always wave when they drive by or I say hello when I meet them on the skyway. I now feel much more comfortable calling them when I see something suspicious or have some kind of problem. Or to simply be friendly with a fellow citizen rather than shying away.|
|I read that the horses themselves are not so expensive, but Department needs the officers elsewhere. But they are a tourist attraction and much more than that, a good way for police and citizens to get to know each other better. I notice the Duluth police are doing a lot of community interaction and I assume that relations between the police and the community are getting better. I especially like it when they invite kids to get inside a police car to see what it is like in there. I would like to see that even at my advanced age.
But Duluth citizens and visitors see the mounted police regularly. They are a signal to us that the police are your friend. Anything that brings police and community together is simply always good. I would think that reduces crime and that is worth a lot to me and most other Duluth citizens The horses are already supported with some outside money.
|We (Duluth) should find a way to keep them on the street so we can see the police up close, get to know them better and call them when we see a problem. That will reduce crime in Duluth. Enough said!|