St. Paul Police Department cutting mounted horse patrol and motorcycle units

St. Paul police horses are a common sight at parades, National Night Out events and of course at the Minnesota State Fair, but next month they will no longer be part of the police department.

The decision to do away with the mounted horse patrol and motorcycle units was recently made to save money and use resources in a more efficient way. For the mounted patrol, it's the end of a long tradition, which dates back to when the unit was founded in the late 1800s. 

Department officials say they are ceasing the programs because of substantial injuries to officers that have increased over the years and an uptick in calls for service that require more officers on the streets. The move also saves the department about $70,000 that can be used elsewhere.

“While they have been on some pursuits and certainly do help with crime suppression, we think we can use those officers in the neighborhoods a little more efficiently,” said Steve Linders, St. Paul police spokesman.

He says the three officers who were dedicated to the mounted patrol unit will transition into a new role.

“We thought we could use this opportunity to create a dedicated detail focused specifically on distracted driving,” he said.

The department says distracted driving is a huge concern with hundreds injured and six killed over the last few years. Although the horses provided a great connection with the community, there are other ways the public can engage with police.

As for the horses, three, which were donated, will go back to their original owners. The department is trying to find homes for the other three.