It is now almost two weeks since the horrific terror attacks in Paris and much of the globe is on heightened alert. This is particularly true in New York City, a location always primed for terrorist threats and activities. New York is prepared for the large gathering of up to 3-million people getting together with loved ones on Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day parade and all holiday festivities. Accordingly, the New York City Police Department has ramped up city-wide security that even includes deploying mounted police. The police on horseback is important in the overall counterterrorism strategy of New York City.
The popular destination city for tourists, travelers and its countless locals, officials predict that 2015 might bring record-breaking crowds for the holidays since the weather has been great, gasoline prices are near record lows and people love New York City during the holidays, starting with the Thanksgiving Macy’s parade. The “Big Apple” has extended the welcome mat! And, based on the expected crowds, New York City has greatly geared up security.
Despite the various advanced security measures already implemented in NYC, most are never noticed by the public. Police officers on horses obviously stand out in their role to enforce order and control. Often referred to as “ten foot cops,” the mounted police force is not there to pose for tourists. These officers are often involved in sudden mishaps, have better view in the urban setting from the backs of horses and rule in crowd control – they depend on their mounts’ speed and mobility, especially in emergency situations.
Deputy Inspector Barry Gelbman, the mounted police unit’s commanding officer, says, “Having that capability at a moment’s notice, when you don’t have resources there yet and you can start to evacuate people or give direction, is invaluable.” Gelbman recalled that in 2010, members of the mounted unit evacuated Times Square in just minutes once the bomb was located in the parked car. Gelbman told source CBS News,
A lot of people have never seen a horse before, they want to pet him, they want to know his name, they want to know where he lives, the type of food he eats. They’re one of the greatest tools we have.
CBS News said that the new state-of-the-art facility opened last week by the New York City Police Department has become the new home for the mounted unit on the west side of Manhattan, placing the unit strategically near Time Square, Penn Station and Central Park. This convenient location situates the officers and their mounts near the busiest sites in New York City.
There are few large cities left in the United States that still maintain active police horses but New York City is one of them. The human officers partner with their horses and together create cohesive teams that become effective beyond compare.