Monday, December 13, 2010
The Wichita Police Department is on holiday horse patrol from today through Christmas. The mounted unit will be patrolling the shopping districts to look for those grinches who might try to steal the presents you just bought.
"Unfortunately, people will come out and throw packages in the back seat and go back in," explains Sgt. Darren Chambers as he rides his horse Split through the parking lot at Towne East Square in Wichita Monday. "Somebody walks through and they see it and break a window and take it."
one officer on horseback can cover the ground of about 20 officers on foot. Chambers and Officer Jim Forred are patrolling Towne East on a blustery winter day, but the horses don't seem to mind.
"We can see way across the lot," says Chambers. "We can watch the lot as we're going through and we can see people walking through the rows, rather than getting out of their cars and going in."
Holiday shoppers are prime targets for thieves who might try to take advantage of you when you least expect it. The mall patrol is also popular with the kids.
"Hi guys, how are you?" Chambers asks as a group of high school students approaches. "Just reach out and pet his neck or shoulder."
As the students move on, Chambers and Forred continue on patrol.
"A lot of people don't talk to police that much and it gives them a chance to see us in a little bit different environment," Chambers said.
These two officers know that they'll be a hit with children while they're on patrol. the officers and their equine partners don't mind a bit. Chambers is riding Split, while Forred rides CJ. Despite their size, these guys can easily wander in between cars in the mall parking lot. They can also easily chase down anyone who tries to run from them.
"Even if we don't catch anyone, we're a good deterrent because they know we're here," Chambers said. "They see us and they know we're watching them and they'll move on."
All seven of the WPD mounted units will be on patrol at the mall parking lots through Christmas Day. It's OK to pet them. Just be sure to ask first.