My name is Adam Smith, I’m a lifelong resident born and raised in Toronto. I am requesting Toronto City Council to fully defund and dismantle the Mounted Police Unit in Toronto as a starting point to making cuts to the police budget. In the 21st century in a modern city like Toronto mounted police are an obsolete anachronism, they serve little policing purpose beyond intimidation, it is risky forced labour for the horses, and their cost can easily be cut without affecting crucial police departments.
As anyone in a government service will tell you, across the board cuts are always detrimental to the service as a whole. Using a targeted cut to a specific department that will not impact the efficacy of the overall service is the perfect way to reduce the budget while leaving the service intact.
There is simply no situation in which a mounted police officer cannot be replaced with an officer travelling by other means, what small advantages mounted police have in a tiny number of very specific situations do not outweigh their limitations or risks. Their limited functions make them an encumbrance rather than an asset, and it is not safe to include a large potentially dangerous animal as part of policing. I have personally witnessed two near disasters with mounted police attempting crowd control in the Beaches. The first incident was when a fight broke out at the end of the Beaches Jazz Festival, and a mounted officer actually attempted for a moment to pursue the fighters into the crowd on his horse, until thankfully he decided not to risk trampling people.
The second incident was even more concerning. After Canada Day fireworks on the beach one year, three mounted officers started clearing out the park. The lead officer was incredibly aggressive, yelling at families and young children, “Leave! Get out of here! Go home! The park is closed!” Anyone who has attended these fireworks knows that after they are done, kids and teens start lighting their personal fireworks. The lead officer’s horse got spooked, and less than two metres from a woman sitting on her blanket the horse started stomping wildly in a circle. The officer could not regain control of his horse for a few minutes, while children started crying in fear as their families scooped them up and people started running away from the horse. The three officers and their steeds spent the rest of the night on an empty stretch of beach, serving no purpose at all.
I know the mounted police are loved by many, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for the city to continue funding them, nor that it’s right to force an animal into police patrolling and the various risky situations that it poses. Risky for the horses, risky for the officers, and risky for the public. Three horses have died on duty in the last 20 years, and unlike human officers these horses don’t get to choose to put themselves in life-threatening situations. This not only saves us the cost of housing, feeding, caring for, cleaning up after, and purchasing 25+ horses, it also frees up 40 officers for other duties. I implore city council to defund the mounted unit as the logical and compassionate place to start budget cuts.
Thank you for your consideration,