Omaha Police adding mounted patrol routes in Blackstone, South Omaha parks
The patrol helped with an event in early October and added Blackstone to their list of routes to patrol weekly or bi-weekly.
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Omaha Police Department is expanding the routes of the mounted patrol units in central and south Omaha.
For those who live near or work in Blackstone, the mounted patrol may become a more regular sighting. The patrol helped with an event in early October and added Blackstone to their list of routes to patrol weekly or bi-weekly.
“We patrol the city of Omaha just like any other officer does on foot,” says Sergeant Kevin Vodicka, who leads the unit.
Along with adding Blackstone to the list of areas they patrol, they’ve also added several southeast Omaha parks, like Hanscom and Mandan.
Vodicka says there are several reasons why routes get added to their patrol list.
“A lot of people request us, if there’s an uptick in crime well go out there for officer presence, they say one horse officer is equal to about 10 officers on the ground, so we’re just up in the air, and can see what’s going on.”
Sgt. Vodicka has been with the mounted patrol for 14 years and rides a horse named Diesel.
“I just love it,” he says. “I thought it looked cool, to be honest with you, I had never touched a horse before the unit. We do all our training in house, to train a person it usually takes six to nine months every day training on the horse.”
Omaha’s mounted patrol unit is one of the few in the midwest that works all year round — many others don’t work through the colder months.
Sgt. Vodicka says Omaha’s unit serves several vital roles in the community no matter the season.
“We do a lot of crowd control, our horses will go into big crowds and move crowds, you know you’re going to move if a 1,400-pound animal makes you move, so we do a lot of that and a lot of it is public relations too, we talk to a lot of kids, go to a lot of schools, we also do I mean police work, we’ll pull cars over, write tickets and direct traffic.”
Community interaction, he says, is one of the best parts of the job.
“People will come up to us, talk to us, pet our horses, we really like that.”
OPD currently has nine horses on the mounted patrol, each one costing around $10,000 to purchase.
Sgt. Vodicka says the barn where the horses are kept is always open during the day to welcome visitors for tours, and they encourage the community to stop by and interact with the unit.
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