BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Police on horseback is a tradition that dates back to the 1800s for cities like Baltimore. Tuesday, they celebrate 125 years of service.

As Christie Ileto explains, it’s a day the mounted unit almost didn’t see.

Eight horses and seven riders make up the city’s mounted police unit.

“We’re still standing since 1888,” said Officer Janine Gilley.

Meaning the unit is the continuous mounted police force in the country—an honor that almost didn’t happen.

“I’m glad we have made it,” said Gilley. “We were a little worried that we wouldn’t make it this far.”

Just four years ago, the mounted unit was on the chopping block, threatened by budget cuts. Donors rode to the rescue of the unit, who is now back on the city’s budget. This ensured they made it to see their 125th year of serving Baltimore. The officers go on special training to ride and care for the horses.

It makes them the most visible officers around town, patrolling big events like the Ravens’ Super Bowl parade.

The unit is critical at running down criminals and controlling large crowds.

“If we have a disturbance, he knows and he’ll stick his chest out if you want to move somebody along,” said Arturo Garvin.

So while there may be plenty of horses in town for Preakness, the mounted unit will be there, too.

“We patrol on the turf course and make sure that nobody from the infield goes onto the race track,” said Gilley.

Because one police officer on horseback is equivalent to 10 on foot. That’s a ratio the mounted horse unit says they hope will continue for another 125 years.

Rain or shine, the mounted officer unit patrols the streets of Baltimore every day.


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