Thursday, May 7, 2009

What's with Officer Glue Stick?

Summer time in Toronto is a gorgeous time of year. Flowers are in bloom, trees are lush and green, and people just seem to move about with a much friendlier demeanor compared to the colder months. There is however one aspect of summer life in Toronto that is just too jagged a pill for me to swallow. The issue is one that maybe some people don’t even know about, and I’m sure, one that many people will disagree with me on. Have you ever been walking or biking downtown and suddenly had to dodge a huge pile of horse crap? Well I certainly have, and it’s not the most pleasant thing to stumble upon in sandals.

My issue isn’t entirely with the horse crap though; it’s with the root problem behind the horse crap… the horses. The equine individuals that leave behind those steamy piles are in fact officers of the law. That’s right, Toronto cops who are members of the ‘Mounted Unit’ canter around T.O. on the backs of their partners, enforcing the law from on high.

Now, in a city where the average speed limit is probably around 40 km/hr, and where SUVs and large trucks are rampant, I really can’t see the benefit a horse brings to law enforcement on street level. Not only are they incapable of pursuing a suspect on the move, but they also take up a lot of road, and at times can slow traffic to a stop.

The average cost to maintain a horse is around $1200 per month as per my research online, and that doesn’t include any veterinary bills, the intense training, or incidental costs that could arise. Horses are pretty fragile creatures as well, and there’s a great deal that can go wrong with them. Compared to a police car that can outrun most production vehicles, act as a crowd control barrier, provide the officer inside with protection, move traffic out of the way with sirens, and actually transport criminals securely, the horse is looking a little bit old fashioned and out of date. Moreover, the cost to maintain a police car is likely very similar to that of the horse (or lower), but provides a great deal more functionality and value.

Horses can also get scared and go nuts, and you don't want to be under-hoof when an angry horse starts to lose it.

Some might argue that the mounted unit has some historical value, or that it’s a tourist attraction, but the reality is that a horse is simply a poor choice compared to a car for policing a big city like Toronto, and I don’t think anyone is vacationing here to see cops up on their high horses, you can get power tripped right at home.
I feel quite strongly that the resources being spent to keep this obsolete form of law enforcement running could be spent on a multitude of different initiatives that would benefit the community and improve the safety of Torontonians in a far more impactful way.

Please email me if you have any comments as my comment posting system seems to have a bit of a bug in it. I’m working on getting this fixed.