Student mounted patrol assists police
Mounted atop their four-legged co-workers, two officers dressed in uniforms patrol the Cook and Douglass Campuses.
Rutgers Mounted Patrol belongs to the Public Safety Department, but is a unique program unto itself. People who work there patrol these campuses as student security on horseback.
The unit assists the student body and acts to deter potential criminal activity, said Bailey Kimmel, the president of Mounted Patrol and a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior.
“Because horses are more approachable, we are a good public relation asset between the students (and) residents and the Rutgers Public Safety Department,” she said.
Rutgers Mounted Patrol originated with the Rutgers Mounted Police and was then adopted by students who rode their own horses around campus, Kimmel said.
Now the club has three horses: Norman, Hoss and Austin, who are owned by the Public Safety Department and live on the farms on George H. Cook campus.
“I first heard about the mounted patrol program as a incoming freshman at accepted students' day,” Kimmel said. “As we are the only student-run mounted patrol of its kind in the country I was very intrigued and wanted to learn more. I was hired my second semester, freshman year.”
Mounted patrol is under the Community Service Officer (CSO) program in the Public Safety Department. In order to be a mounted patrol officer, you have to be a CSO, which allows you to work closely with the students and police, Kimmel said.
The club has monthly meetings to discuss any issues with horses and to talk about fundraising and expansion of the program. Kimmel has monthly meetings with her supervisors along with her partner, Jayde Hirniak, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, to keep the communication between mounted patrol and CSO.
The club has 16 mounted patrol officers.
Ann Strzelczyk, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, also shared her experience as a member of Mounted Patrol.
“When I came to Rutgers (I) heard there was a mounted patrol unit, and I did indeed see the officers riding around Cook. I knew several officers through the Rutgers Equestrian Team,” Strzelczyk said. “When I heard that I could get paid to ride horses around campus, I was sold."
The unit’s goals are to keep the community safe by patrolling campus and being the eyes on the ground for the police department.
The unit also aids members of the Rutgers community, as well as visitors by providing directions. Because of their visibility, the members also serve as a sort of public relations unit for the Rutgers University Police Department, Strzelczyk said.
Mounted Patrol is different from other public safety programs because it links the use of horses with public safety, Kimmel said. The unit is unique due to the wider variety of students’ majors, ranging from animal science to criminal justice.
As a mounted patrol member, this job entails not only being able to work with people but also understanding animal care and being comfortable interacting with horses. Because mounted patrol is a subset of the CSO program, the unit holds all the same values as other CSOs, Kimmel said.
The program also helps the police interact with the community in a positive way since some students hold negative thoughts toward them. Seeing officers on horseback makes people curious and draws them in more than an officer in a police car, Strzelczyk said.
Mounted Patrol officers allow people to pet the horses and answer questions about the program while providing a police presence to make people feel safe.
Many do not realize that the members are students, and that the unit is an entirely student-run club, and the unit never stops trying to find ways to better serve the community, she said.
“If we help people feel safe on campus and put smiles on their faces, there’s nothing more we can ask for,” Strzelczyk said.
Christine Lee is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in American Studies. She is a contributing writer at The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @christie2504 for more.