SCMPD mounted patrol hits 25-year milestone - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

SCMPD mounted patrol hits 25-year milestone

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CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

The Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Dept.'s Mounted Patrol is celebrating 25 years on horseback.

It's a huge milestone for mounted patrol officers, especially since they're a rare breed around these parts. One man has been with the unit since its start.

Within minutes of arriving to Forsyth Park, a young girl wants to pet the horses. It's the No. 1 question the mounted patrol get asked. It's also the No. 1 reason they ride everywhere.

"Everyone wants to see the horses, and you can get some valuable information," said Sgt. Gene Lawhorn, of SCMPD's Mounted Patrol.

Lawhorn is in charge of the mounted patrol. He has been with the unit from the very start and knows the value of it. The horses break down a barrier.

"With the horse patrol they come right up to you. They come up to the horses. Even the drug boys, as they say, that stand on the corner. They have kids, they bring them up to the horses," he said.  

He said that no one ever came up to him to touch his patrol car.

It's a highly coveted unit within the department. There are only six spots. Advanced Patrol Officer Megan Novinger was just accepted six months ago.

"When you're in patrol school, they introduce you to all the units, and we went out to the barn and I said, 'That's it. That's where I want to end up,'" she said.

Her partner on the street is Officer Lee and she always thought he was pretty, but looks can be deceiving.

"He has a bit of an attitude, so you just have to learn your horse," she said.

Don't give these hooved and footed officers any attitude. They showed me how they arrest a suspect - without even dismounting.

They've also got the best vantage point 9 feet up in the air. If anyone is hiding behind an all too common privacy fence, or you need to see several blocks away - they've got you covered.

"We do everything a patrol officer does, we just do it from horseback," Lawhorn said.

Lawhorn chooses each horse personally and hopes that the department will add more mounted officers in the future. 

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