Since November of 2005, the Lafayette Mounted Police Unit has put to work a group of horses that deliver a combination of services that no officer alone can provide. Offering a presence equivalent to 20 officers on foot, each horse, along with his mounted officer, is extremely valuable to the Lafayette Police Department, especially in terms of crowd control. But just as quickly as these officers and their mounts turn crowd chaos into calmness, these horses can melt the hearts of the public with their gentle dispositions.
“Our horses are valuable tools in terms of crowd control, search and rescue efforts and crime deterrent,” said Lafayette Police Department Sgt. Austin Provost, “but they also offer the public a unique opportunity to interact with police officers in an agreeable and educational atmosphere. Many individuals will approach a Mounted Patrol Officer and engage in conversation out of interest in the horse, whereas they will not approach an officer on foot or in a patrol car.”
Community benefits of mounted police include:
- Increased crowd control
- Officer’s increased visibility of crowds from horseback
- Goodwill relations between the public and the police officers
- Search and rescue efforts
- Crowd safety at parades and festivals
- Educational programs at schools and community events
The Lafayette Mounted Police Unit currently houses five horses at Cherokee Ridge Horse Farm in Carencro: one Thoroughbred and four Thoroughbred/Percheron cross breeds. Percherons are a type of draft horse known for their large size, docile nature, intelligence and willingness to work.
The group of five horses, trained by Sgt. Austin Provost and Assistant Trainer Cpl. Jason Ardoin are hard at work, putting in 40 hours of training per week in addition to 16-20 hours per week patrolling our city’s streets. The Mounted Police Unit’s patrols primarily the Downtown area during evening hours, but the horses also work events such as Mardi Gras festivities, festivals, parades and community education events.
Police officers interested in being a part of the Mounted Police Unit must complete a specialized equestrian training program in addition to their normal police training. After completing this training, officers volunteer to work extra police shifts just to get time “on the clock and in the saddle.”
All horses are purchased or donated to the Lafayette Mounted Police Unit. If you are interested in assisting the mounted unit by way of a monetary donation or by volunteering your time, please contact Sgt. Austin J. Provost, III at (337) 291-5607 office, or email at aprovost@LafayetteLA.gov. You may also contact Sgt. Provost regarding joining the unit or inquiries about the “Friends of the Lafayette Mounted Police Unit.”