VPD welcomes three newest members of its Mounted Unit
It took them a week-long road trip to get here, but Jedi, Josiah and Jarvis are already fitting in just fine as the newest members of the Vancouver Police Mounted Unit.
The three-year-old geldings were recruited from the southern United States, and have been here about a month, stabled at the unit's headquarters in Stanley Park.
"They come from a facility that breeds and trains horses specifically for police work," said Unit member Sgt. Susan Sharp. "So we're finding that already their temperaments, although curious, are very calm, and they're not very reactive to much."
Which is exactly what the police's mounted unit is looking for.
The animals are exposed to a variety of situations when on patrol, including loud noises and sudden movement, the sorts of things that would cause an average horse to react.
Trainers have been creating various scenarios to acclimatize the "J's," as they're affectionately known, through a system called "nuisance training."
"Whether it be umbrellas, balls, Frisbees, or fireworks," Sharp said. "Whatever we can do to expose them to that -- so they're comfortable with whatever they may face on the street."
And one situation in which a 2,000 pound animal is particularly indispensable is crowd control.
Their sheer size is an advantage, as well as giving their human partner's a bird's-eye view of potential hazards in a fluid and sometimes dangerous situation, as they were during the Stanley Cup Riot in 2011.
"The horses were instrumental in being able to move a large crowd," Sgt. Sharp said.
They're also a crowd favourite when it comes to community outreach, and police say the public loves them and often ask to pet them or pose for selfies.
For now, Jedi, Josiah and Jarvis will continue getting to know their new city.
They'll be paired up with a VPD member and slowly introduced to the beaches, the West End, the West Side, and Stanley Park.
The Mounted Unit anticipates the "J's" will be deployed by the end of the summer.