Horseback police in more South Richmond neighborhoods

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – You might say in one south Richmond neighborhood... the calvary has arrived. But this is 2010, not 1910 and Richmond's oldest patrol unit is making a comeback.

"It's usually pretty effective. We don't lose a whole lot of people," said Richmond Police Sgt. Eric Bardon.

Police say for years residents in the Southwood Apartments were plagued by street robberies. Councilman Doug Conner asked police for more patrols. They started with bike units in February and by March officers on horseback arrived.

"It's reminds me of McCloud on the TV series with Dennis Weaver, the cowboy comes to New York with this horse running up and down the allies-the streets and stuff. I think it's fantastic," said Conner.

The effort here is new, but they've already noticed a slowdown in crime. On their first day, the mounted unit helped chased down trespassers and even turned to crime fighting during our interview.

Behind the captain you can see the horses take off...moments later they're galloping down the street helping to catch a man involved in a domestic situation. The unit may be for fighting crime, but it's also about building relationships.

"We write traffic summons, three of my people are radar certified so we'll run radar off the top of 'em. Just being out in the community, people see us more. We're just more approachable I think is probably our biggest benefit," said Bardon.

The unit's been in Richmond since 1895. There are five riders and five partners, reigning in support and stomping out crime.

"It's just a great took for the police department. They'll still be using traditional spots downtown, but I think there intent is to put them in different neighborhoods to build that trust," said Richmond Police Captain Scott Booth.

For the last few weeks this entire unit's been reaching out two different neighborhoods a day. And as the weather gets nicer you might see them more often.

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