At issue are the stables included in Truman Waterfront redesign
Key West Mayor Craig Cates said the city should take a closer look at costs associated with the care and housing of the Key West Police Department’s mounted patrol. Cates raised the subject at the recent Key West Republican Club meeting.
“We are at the point where we decide whether or not to include a horse stable in the design of the new Truman Waterfront. I would rather not see it in that location. Horses are a nice thing to have, but they are not necessary,” said Cates.
In the past, the officers owned the horses and sought donations for feed and veterinarian bills. Now, the Key West Police Department covers those costs. There is about $16,000 budgeted this year for the mounted patrol. This includes medical care and food for the horses and stable maintenance at the stable’s location on Truman Waterfront next to the PAL Building. Cates said the construction of new stables, part of the redesign of the community gathering center at the Truman Waterfront, would cost about $500,000.
KWPD spokesperson Alyson Crean said the mounted patrol is necessary.
“There are a lot of advantages for crowd control with horses and they are a good way to interact with the community. The horses are trained and they can positively influence what a huge crowd does. They use them at parades to move everyone aside,” said Crean.
Mayor Cates said there was an incident at the Christmas parade where a horse got spooked and damaged a car, but Crean said that was not one of the Key West horses and is a rare occurrence.
She said other advantages of the mounted patrol are that the officer is up high and he or she has a better viewpoint in crowds; the kids love ‘em; and the horses have better access to tight quarters where a patrol car can’t maneuver
Cates proposes switching the four-legged animals for two-wheel conveyances.
“I would rather see the police officers on Segways for speed patrol. They are not as expensive to maintain and provide many of the same advantages of horses,” said Cates.
Cates said he is not opposed to keeping the horses, but would like to explore other options. Currently Cates is in the Bahamas but said he plans to put it on the agenda for an upcoming commission meeting so the issue can be discussed.