//Police units on horseback in danger of extinction
Unidad montada a caballo - La Guardia Urbana de Barcelona

Police units on horseback in danger of extinction

Ada Colau, the former mayor of Barcelona, advanced in the elimination of the mounted police called Guardia Urbana. This police force fulfills protocol functions and supports crowd control. However, the costs of these units are rising every day. Meanwhile, technology and urban dynamics are displacing or making obsolete the horse in urban life. Today we will find out if police units on horseback are in danger of extinction, and the pros and cons of these decisions. Let’s start…

Mounted unit on horseback - The Guardia Urbana from Barcelona
Mounted unit on horseback – The Guardia Urbana from Barcelona


Uses of police units on horseback, units in danger of extinction

The horse was consolidated as a means of military and police transport in previous centuries. However, there are several reasons why horse-mounted police forces are created or maintained today. Here are some reasons.

Advantages of horses from a tactical point of view

  1. Presence and visibility: Police officers on horseback provide an imposing and easily recognizable physical presence in the areas where they operate. Horses are eye-catching animals which helps deter crime. The visibility of officers on horseback can also be beneficial in maintaining order at public events and demonstrations, as their height and elevated position allow them to have a better view of the crowd.
  2. Mobility and access: Horses can move through difficult terrain and in congested urban areas more efficiently. Mounted police forces can access places where cars or motorcycles have difficulties. Some examples of this are parks, nature trails or hard-to-reach areas. They can patrol areas inaccessible by other means and respond quickly to emergency situations.
  3. Crowd control: Horses can be used in crowd control situations. Their presence can help keep calm and deter violent behavior. Their height allows them to provide a visible presence and control crowds effectively.
  4. Patrolling in natural areas: In places with extensive natural areas, such as national parks or rural areas, horses are a practical option. Horses can cover longer distances and tackle varied terrain more easily, facilitating environmental protection, crime prevention and assistance in rescue situations.

Advantages of horses from the strategic-communicational point of view

  1. Community interaction: The presence of police units on horseback can help improve the relationship between police and the community. Horses are often regarded as friendly animals and can serve as a point of attraction to establish a dialogue between officers and citizens.
  2. Protocol and events: Horseback cops can participate in protocol events and festivities, adding some appeal while maintaining their security and control role.
  3. Tourism: Policemen on horseback are eye-catching and attractive to visitors. Therefore, keeping police on horseback can be a tourist attraction. In addition, their presence is less shocking to those who want security without the rigid presence of traditional police,

These reasons, apart from tradition and resistance to change, justify the maintenance of some of these units. Next, we will mention some of the police units on horseback that are still maintained in the world.

Police units on horseback in the world

All over the world we find examples of police units on horseback. Then we will give you some of the best examples:

  1. Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP (Canada): RCMP is known worldwide for its assembled unit. These agents patrol rural and urban areas throughout Canada, in addition to participating in special ceremonies and events.
  2. New York City Mounted Police (United States): The New York Mounted Police is part of the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Its officers on horseback patrol parks, urban areas and participate in the control of crowds.
  3. Mounted Branch of the Metropolitan Police, London (United Kingdom): The London Metropolitan Police has a assembled unit used in patrolling, major events and demonstrations.4. Carabineros (Chile): The Carabineros have a mounted section that patrols urban and rural areas of the country. Your mounted unit is the “Mounted Squad.”5. Guardia Civil (Spain): The Civil Guard of Spain has assembled units. Horse-riding agents perform citizen security, patrol and surveillance tasks.6. Mounted Police Units (Australia): Several state and territorial police forces in Australia have assembled units, such as the New South Wales Mounted Police (New South Wales) and the Queensland Mounted Police (Queensland).
Royal Canadian Mounted Police - Canada's Mounted Mounted Unit
Royal Canadian Mounted Police – Canada’s Mounted Mounted Unit

Progress in eliminating police units on horseback in the world’s police forces.

We will soon know if the new socialist mayor of Barcelona will follow these policies. However, this is not a phenomenon exclusive to the city of Barcelona. The disappearance or reduction of the mounted police are some of the phenomena that seem to advance unstoppably.

The horse, which played an important role in twentieth-century security, has been displaced by technology. Security cameras, efficient and fast vehicles, drones… Each of these technologies has put a nail in the coffin of police horses.

However, there is a space in which the horse cannot be moved, in its elegance and its perfect complement for protocol events. Despite this, some administrations consider it an excessive expense to maintain units assembled only by the protocol.

And it is that the assembled unit of Barcelona costs the city council 3 million euros.

In countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom or England they have made progress in this aspect, but let’s know a little more…

NYPD uses drones to surveil
NYPD uses drones to surveil

Countries that have eliminated or reduced mounted police units. Are they in danger of extinction?

As mentioned above, some countries have opted for the reduction of these units. Here are some examples:

  1. In the UK, several police forces have reduced their mounted units in recent decades. London’s Metropolitan Police has reduced the size of its mounted unit due to budget cuts and changing ways of patrolling. Video surveillance systems and panic buttons have been prioritized.
  2. Australia: Some Australian state police have reduced or eliminated their mounted units. The South Australian and Victoria Police have decreased the number of officers on horseback, mainly due to economic reasons.
  3. In the United States there are several police forces on horseback. But some cities and police departments have decreased or eliminated their mounted units. The reasons range from budget cuts to shifts in priorities. Technological changes have a great impact.
  4. In the Netherlands, its mounted unit has been gradually reduced in recent decades. They are still used in rural areas but the total number has decreased significantly.
  5. Germany: Several state police forces have reduced or eliminated their mounted units due to budget constraints. Also opting for a greater use of motor vehicles.
  6. Brazil: The use of police on horseback has decreased in places like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. This is related to changes in patrolling and budgeting.
Irish police on horseback in parade
Irish police on horseback in parade

Are police units on horseback in danger of extinction?

Police units on horseback have been in decline due to high costs and declining populations in rural areas.

Other alternatives have taken their place such as drones and video surveillance. However, police units on horseback still have a place in society and are therefore not in danger of extinction.

We must assess ways to maintain and enhance the strengths of police units. This can increase the deterrent, the sense of security and the closeness between citizens and the police. If we make good use of horse-mounted police units, we can promote other ways to improve their profitability. We can get alternative forms of financing such as tourism or increase profitability through the reduction of crime. It’s a great way to keep police units on horseback and enhance their positive impact on society.