Day in the Life: U.S. Park Police Mounted Unit Officer

Transcript: 

(Police radio sounds, and sounds of horse's hoof beats.)

To be a horse-mounted officer you're carrying on a legacy.

You're carrying on some history behind it, to patrol on the horse in the greatest city in the world. 

(Music plays, sounds of crickets and singing birds)

The day begins at 0600 and the moment that I arrive here at the barn I immediately check on the status of my horse, and  all the horses in the barn to make sure that there's no apparent injuries of some sort.

This is Delilah, she's a nine-year old Percheron thoroughbred cross. As you can see we caught her in the middle of breakfast right now, but I'll make it up to her in a little bit.

The moment that I find that she's good to go I then begin to giver her a bath, brushing her off, tacking her up, and then after we've done so, we start putting on her saddle her reins, and we're off for patrol for whatever assignment is due for me that day. 

(Music)

On a beautiful day such as this, as a horse-mounted officer it's wonderful to get out and patrol and to introduce yourself to the public and to assure them that they're safe. 

(Music)

Often times they're so overwhelmed by what they're seeing because they've never seen it before, that they just want to at least overcome their fear to touch her.

Delilah is an excellent horse in temperament she takes a lot of the characteristics of the Percheron, she's really low key I've had her for the last four years. She didn't necessarily come on auto pilot, despite her disposition...

(Horse whinnies)

...but the benefit of being part draft horse, she's been really patient with me and she doesn't spook easy.

First ten years of my career I was in patrol and I wanted a challenge, and what greater challenge there was than to learn how to ride a horse in the best city in the United States, and that's Washington DC.

(Music)

The moment we end our patrol here at the barn we dismount the horse, bring the horse in, untack the horse, making sure that there is no apparent cuts, or any bruises, anything that may have occurred during patrol, making sure there's no stones in the hoof, getting any saddle stains off of the back.  And then once we allow them to go back into their stall, feed the horse by grain and hay, refill their buckets with water, and it's the end of our day.

(Music)

The primary mission for the mounted Park Police officer is demonstrations. Fortunately we don't have many demonstrations so on my average patrol it is community policing. It is monitoring the community,  just surveilling the area for various crimes of some sort. But it is primarily police presence and demonstrations.

To represent a mounted unit that is known nationwide and to carry on the legacy and the reputation which is rightfully earned... more so than anything, meeting new people every day, and seeing how they react when they see a beautiful horse like Delilah, and putting a smile on their face, and assuring them that they're in good hands. 

(Music plays, fades)

8/22/2018
Last edited 9/7/2018

Every summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day, millions of visitors flock to the monuments and memorials on the National Mall in Washington DC. Among those responsible for keeping them safe, are the mounted officers of the U.S. Park Police, one of the country's oldest police equestrian units. From Presidential Inaugurations to political demonstrations, mounted officers help provide crucial crowd control and traffic management. But they also play a role in community policing, keeping the Nation's Capital and its visitors safe, while serving as goodwill ambassadors to the public. 

We spent a day with Officer Chester West, a U.S. Army veteran, and for the last seven years, a member of DC's Horse Mounted Unit. This is his story.