The Mounted Patrol
The former Savannah Police Department has a rich history with its Mounted Patrol dating back to 1796. Patrol units consisted of teams of horses and their riders, who developed strong connections with each other. In the early 1900’s, when automobiles became more prevalent, the Savannah mounted patrol units were disbanded.
Savannah operated without these units for over 50 years, but in 1989, now retired Police Chief David Gellatly successfully fought to bring them back. On July 22, 2014, the unit celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Currently, the unit is comprised of six riders and seven horses. The horses are required to meet specific height, age and temperament requirements. All of the horses have been trained to deal with loud noises such as gunshots and sirens, as well as walk over objects that most horses wouldn’t approach. The horses live, sleep and train at the mounted patrol unit stables off Dean Forest Road.
Mounted Patrol is not only popular with the public and especially children, but they are also an immensely useful as a tactical instrument in the face of an unruly crowd. Policing on horseback provides the flexibility to patrol areas that vehicles cannot easily reach, such as squares, parks and other pedestrian areas. It also provides a “perch” from which riders can easily observe crowd activities or look over walls and fences, areas that would go unnoticed by officers on foot or in patrol vehicles.
The Mounted Unit plays an important role with the Mobile Field Force Unit to control crowds and the two units train together several times a year.
The SCMPD Mounted Patrol Unit is commanded by:
Sergeant Gene Lawhorn
E-mail Sgt. Lawhorn