The Columbus Division of Police Mounted Unit is supervised by Sergeant Robert Forsythe and is staffed with six officers, two part time hostlers, and twelve horses.
Over the years, the Mounted Unit has been a tremendous asset to not only our Division, but also to various outside agencies and organizations. The Mounted Unit has proved to be an effective means of crowd control for large events and festivals throughout the central Ohio area to include events such as Red, White, and Boom and the NHL All Star game held at Nationwide Arena. The Unit was assigned to work all of the Ohio State University football games and campus area festivals and provided a visible presence at selected high school football games. The Unit was also assigned to patrol annual special events held in Columbus, to include the Asian Festival, Juneteenth Festival, the Jazz and Rib Festival, Festival Latino, Community Festival, Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon, and the Race for the Cure; this list is just a portion of the events attended.
The Unit also participated in parades, block parties, National Night Out festivities, funerals, promotions and graduation ceremonies. The Mounted Unit received and fulfilled many requests from the Mayor’s office, Division CLO’s, Columbus Public Schools, and the community. The Unit also received requests to conduct barn tours and educational visits for Boy and Girl Scout troops, pre-schools, senior citizen centers, and other community groups.
The Mounted Unit has proven to be an effective deterrent to various problems and criminal activity in our community by high visibility patrols in problematic areas, identified by their review of crime analysis reports. The Mounted Unit has also assisted other jurisdictions and other bureau personnel within our Division with high risk missing persons searches, location of wanted persons, and other various calls for assistance.
Our Mounted Unit is recognized as one of the leaders among mounted units throughout the state of Ohio and has provided several other mounted units with training in Crowd and Riot Control procedures. The Mounted Unit conducts monthly training with other mounted units in Ohio, to include Franklin, Delaware, Licking and Allen Counties Sheriffs, the Ohio State University Police Department, the New Albany Police Department and the Athens, Ohio Police Department. During 2015, the Mounted Unit participated in Division-wide Riot Control training, to include training with the Division’s recruit classes and bicycle units.
The Mounted Unit has attended training in Washington, D.C. and in Mobile, Alabama. As part of the training in Alabama, the Unit worked with the Mobile Police Department’s Mounted Unit patrolling their City during Mardi Gras celebrations and leading the largest parade held during these celebrations. Every year, the Mounted Unit travels to Athens, Ohio to assist their Police Department with crowd control for large Ohio University student events such as the Mill and Palmer Festivals in the spring and the Halloween festivities in the fall. In addition, the unit was requested by the Cincinnati Police Department to patrol the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star game held in their city.
The Mounted Unit’s facility is located at the former Columbus Police Academy, on McKinley Avenue. The facility was built in the early 1900’s for refuse/trash horses. Before the barn actually housed any horses, the refuse operation switched from using horses to using motor vehicles. The Columbus Police horses were the first horses to actually occupy the barn. The stables are in the barn, equipped with 14 stalls, an indoor arena and an outside arena. The office is upstairs in the barn over the stall area. The stable is open to the public for tours and school field trips, providing the opportunity for citizens to view the horses up close and to experience a working stable in operation.
The officers assigned to the Mounted Unit are proud of the accomplishments and success of the unit and welcome other departments interested in establishing a Mounted Unit in their own jurisdiction to visit their operations.