For 25 years, the San Jose Mounted Unit of the SJPD has been an important factor in ensuring public safety throughout the city. Most people know it from special events, where police officers on horses provide a visible presence. They play a key role in crowd control, but also in point specific law enforcement, particularly in the Downtown area, Guadeloupe Park, and Japantown.
Faced with mounting budget cuts, however, the city is preparing to defund and eliminate the Mounted Unit, first founded by Police Chief Joe McNamara in 1986. While every police chief since then has supported keeping the unit, the city insists that cuts must be made, even to the police force. Officially, the Mounted Unit costs the city about $1 million, though the actual cost is closer to $300,000.
Since money from the city will not be forthcoming, the Friends of the San Jose Mounted Unit has launched a campaign to raise the money instead. Their most recent project, the Pony Up for the San Jose Mounted Unit Raffle, is selling 25,000 tickets at $100 a piece, hoping that this will raise enough money to keep the force on its hooves through 2012. They’ve already raised $70,000, and expect to have the entire sum by the raffle’s end.
The raffle offers a chance to win cash prizes or a weekend getaway. Most of all, it’s a way to keep San Jose safe and sound in the face of looming budget cuts by keeping the Mounted Unit mounted.