Officers give their partners a ride |

Officers give their partners a ride

Rob Bhatt

The horses are back.

For the third straight summer, the South Lake Tahoe Police Department will be assigning mounted patrol officers for special – and some routine – events.

Chief David Solaro considers the program highly effective.

Besides giving officers the height advantage when it comes to maintaining crowd control during large, outdoor gatherings – like the beaches on Independence Day, Solaro calls the equines essential to the community policing concept.

“They (horses) are widely accepted by visitors and locals, and they provide a friendly image,” the chief said.

Last year, two horses helped break up a fight outside a Stateline-area motel involving about 20 people.

The department’s three mounted officers – Rebecca Inman, Chuck Owens and Jeff Reagan – each own their four-legged partner. Each is responsible for feeding and cleaning their horse.

All three attended a 40-hour refresher course on horse patrol earlier this year needed for the officers and the horses to maintain their state sanctioned certification.

The program – paid for by the state – included techniques on handcuffing suspects, restraining combative subjects and firing weapons from saddles.

The horses, meanwhile, were exposed sensory stimulations that they may encounter on the street – everything from strollers and people to light posts and flying candy wrappers. In one exercise, a horse is required to remain in place while a helicopter hovers a short distance above the animal and its rider.

The mounted units kicked off their season by patrolling areas during Memorial Day Weekend.

The officers hope to get back in the saddle three times a week throughout the summer.

Owens said the horses are ideal for monitoring parks, beaches and residential neighborhoods.

Solaro said the officers will only be assigned to patrol on horses on days when their is enough staffing to cover other shift assignments.

Costs for mounted patrol are relatively small, the chief added, because the officers volunteer the services of their beasts of burden. The department paid for minor uniform modifications and for equipping the horses with special shoes twice a year. If a horse is injured on patrol, the department would likely pay for veterinary costs.

“It (mounted patrol) is really low cost, thanks to the dedication and cooperation of the officers involved,” the chief added.

Inman’s horse, Ace, is an 11-year-old gelding quarterhorse that used to race until suffering a leg injury. Owens and Reagan also ride gelding quarter horses.

Attached to their saddles are the basic tools of horse patrol including extra long batons for restraining belligerent suspects from horseback and, of course, the pooper scooper.


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.