Support Ground Officers: The Mounted Patrol unit supports Walking Beat officers by clearing crowds from sidewalks and the street where problems arise. The effectiveness of one officer on a horse is equal to 10 officers on the ground. The mounted officers are able to clear crowds without causing panic, as people generally yield to horses because of their size. Mounted officers rarely have to make any physical contact with citizens, but provide very visible direction. In addition, officers on horseback can monitor a crowd from a “bird’s eye” view. Mounted officers can then respond and alert ground officers of any disturbances.
Support the EMS and Fire Department: Both EMS and the Fire Department will be called into the crowd to treat sick or injured patrons. Mounted Patrol serves as an escort for EMS and Fire Department personnel while they are on foot or in their vehicles. Mounted Patrol also forms perimeters around personnel so that they have a working area within a crowd.
Support the EMS and Fire Department:: Mounted Patrol keeps ground officers, EMS, and Fire personnel, safe from bystander interference by forming perimeters around them while they are dealing with situations on the ground. This is especially important when dealing with an arrest situation. Officers not protected by the perimeter are susceptible to being attacked from behind. Also, Mounted Patrol officers escort walking beat officers with arrestees through the crowd to the walking beat van. Once at the van, Mounted Patrol forms another perimeter so that the arrestee can be properly searched and secured, without outside interference.
Crowd Management: The Austin Police Department encourages crowd management before a crowd control situation arises. Mounted patrol walks the horses up and down 6th Street and the streets in the Warehouse District to establish high visibility. Mounted Patrol also accomplishes an early presence by patrolling the perimeters of the entertainment districts. Both the high visibility and early presence deter crime. Mounted Patrol often encounters individuals in the alleys along 6th Street, violating several city ordinances such as urinating in a public place, consuming alcohol in prohibited area, etc.
Crowd Control & Riot: Crowd control and or Riot situations are tactical in nature. The Austin Police Department Mounted Patrol Unit trains with the departments Special Response Team (SRT). The tactics used are very specific in nature and Mounted Patrol is an integral part.
Special Events: Mounted Patrol does the all the same things they normally do, except that they use more personnel by deploying day shift, night shift, and any auxiliary riders. The biggest annual events are: New Year’s Eve, Mardi-gras, Texas Relays, Halloween, South by Southwest Music Festival and University of Texas Football Game Nights. Other events include those political in nature, such as Fortune 500 and War protests.
Directed Patrols: Early in the night, Mounted Patrol may visit previously recognized areas of crime in the Downtown area. These patrols may be specifically requested by citizens and businesses or recognized by the officers on Mounted Patrol.
Traffic and Parking Enforcement: Mounted Patrol is constantly asked questions about the traffic flow and parking situation in Downtown Austin. Mounted Patrol provides the information to help promote voluntary compliance. Mounted Patrol also issues traffic and / or parking citations as necessary.
Curfew Ordinance: The Mounted Patrol Unit patrols the parks and street for juvenile curfew and nighttime curfew violations. Officers on horseback are able to go places where a patrol car can not go. An officer on horseback in the park during the night is not easily spotted and is able to respond to criminal activity occurring, quickly.
Foot Pursuits: Foot pursuits are ended quickly by officers on horseback. Horses can run much faster than people and can deal with many obstacles. Officers on horseback usually prevent even the most agile suspect from escaping. Ending a foot pursuit quickly also prevents ground officers, suspects, or innocent bystanders from being injured.