The online rally for the Portland Police Bureau's Mounted Patrol continues, this time with an online petition to the City Council.
The nine-horse unit isn't part of Mayor Charlie Hales' budget proposal; it's been cut to save about $1.1 million.
The change.org petition has drawn more than 1,300 signatures since Saturday—and each time someone signs on, the Mayor and City Council get an email.
From the form letter:
"The Mounted Patrol Unit has a special relationship with the city of Portland. It provides tangible law enforcement benefits- preventing street crime, patrolling areas in a slow and thorough manner, and assisting on large community events.The Police Horses also provide a connection between the police and the community that is needed right now in our city. As then-Mayor Vera Katz said in 2002, the MPU 'puts a gentle face on this city.'"
Mounted patrol supporters argue that cutting the unit won't save as much as the mayor says. The officers in the unit will be reassigned, meaning all that's really needed is the cost for care of the horses.
"The approximate cost of the horses is around $5,000 a year for each of nine horses," a statement sent by the nonprofit Friends of the Mounted Patrol says. "Other costs like computers, radios, and running the barn are approximately $175,000 a year. The Friends have offered to cover $75,000 of that each year.
The petition efforts join the 7,000-plus "likes" the Save Portland's Mounted Patrol Facebook page has garnered since last Tuesday.
The group is planning an open house from 10 am to 2 pm Saturday at the horse barn, 1362 NW Naito Parkway for members of the community to come by, meet the horses, and learn more about the program.
Hales' office tells WW nothing's a done deal yet when it comes to the budget.
"The mayor recognizes that this is a proposed budget," spokesman Dana Haynes says in an email. "He takes the public hearings seriously. He intends to hear from the various stakeholders, and to listen to what they say."