“Considering the recent budget cuts by the D.C. Council, we’ve had to make some difficult decisions at MPD, including the disbanding of our Horse Mounted Unit,” D.C. police spokesperson Kristen Metzger said in a statement.
Metzger declined to comment on the cost of running the unit.
The four mounted officers will stay within the department’s Special Operations division, Metzger said, adding that “we are going to make sure we find good homes for the horses.”
The decision comes almost two months after D.C. lawmakers decided to cut $15 million from the police department budget amid growing cries for police reform. D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham has declined to discuss the cuts at length but stressed that underfunded police departments can deprive the city of resources that help keep it safe.
Over two days, a Change.org petition hoping to preserve the Horse Mounted Unit garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
“The Horse Unit was created to be a community-oriented ambassador for the department,” it says. “The Horse Unit was, and still, is a huge success with the citizens of the District of Columbia.”