The Mounted Unit was formed in 1994. All of the mounted officers have volunteered to be assigned to the unit. It is considered a collateral assignment, meaning the officers have other, full time assignments such as patrol, detectives or narcotics and work the mounted unit for special details or call outs. Officers who request to be a part of the unit must supply their own mount (horse) and tack (riding equipment). They are also responsible for the care, feeding, maintenance, transportation and training of each horse.
The Mammoth Lakes Police Department Mounted Unit is a member of the Eastern Sierra Mounted Enforcement Unit. Due to our limited resources in dealing with large incidents, we created this multi-agency unit which may be called upon by any of the participating agencies for use in their jurisdictions or for mutual aid requests. The participating agencies include the Mammoth Lakes Police Department, Bishop Police Department, Mono County Sheriff’s Department, Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, Department of the Interior-Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service.
The current MLPD mounted unit members are:
Sergeant Marc Moscowitz and his partner, “Flammable”. Flam is a Bay Arabian Gelding.
Officer Andy Lehr and his partner, “EZ”. EZ is a Thoroughbred who is a rescued horse that used to race.
The horses range in age from 5 to 19 years old and are from 15 to 16 hands tall. (A horse’s height is measured in “hands” from the ground to the withers. A hand is equal to four inches and the withers is the highest point on the horses back. It is the ridge above his shoulder blades and used instead of the top of his head, because it is a stable height as opposed to a horse’s head, which moves around.)
Each mounted unit member and their mount have attended a CA Peace Officer Standards and Training certified 40 hour mounted academy. There is also ongoing training both individually and with the unit. Additionally, each officer/mount must pass the requirements of our agency, including: Basic equitation, side passing against pressure, backing in straight lines and through patterns, remaining under control during exposure to gunfire, taking suspects into custody, sensory training, standing calmly when required and working in mounted/crowd control formations. When evaluating prospective mounted officers and/or new horses, we look for officers with strong and confident riding ability, horses that display courage and finally, a bond between the officer and the horse.
A horse’s natural reaction to an unusual event is to turn and run away to escape danger. Our mounted unit depends upon the trust between the officer and their horse. An important part of the training for our officers and their horses is to develop and maintain a strong bond through that mutual trust. The horse must know that the officers will keep them safe, and the officers must learn to trust their horses to remain calm, level headed and brave. The horse must remain calm and controllable whether a small child is hugging him, or officers are arresting a violent suspect.
Community Relations, Search and Rescue, Crime Prevention/Special Enforcement, Traffic Control, Suspect Searches and Crowd Control/Civil Disturbances
The primary use of our mounted unit is for community relations. We generally find that officers are more approachable when on horseback. They take that opportunity to speak with and contact community members and have shaken hands with visitors from around the world. Because of their mobility and visibility, our mounted officers’ effect on the reduction of crime is tremendous. The horses are trained to work in the street environment and can many times respond to areas and situations where gridlock or large crowds keep police vehicles from rapidly getting on scene. Two officers on horseback can usually access and control most traffic situations. Our mounted officers have been called out to search for and contact suspects in remote locations. They are able to cover large areas, in locations that would otherwise only be accessible on foot. Additionally, due to the size and maneuverability of the horses, our mounted unit is extremely effective when dealing with large crowds or violent persons. Many times potentially volatile situations are made safer due to the ability of the unit to keep order and if necessary, to assist ground units with taking suspects into custody.