The two newest officers in the Wichita Police Department are a pair of Clydesdale horses.
The Clydesdales, which have not been officially named yet, were gifted to the department by the nonprofit Wichita Police Foundation and Together Wichita on Thursday.
Each horse, saddle and kit cost approximately $20,000.
They will replace two police horses that will soon be retired from the department. The Wichita Police Department did not have the budget to buy two new horses, so it fell to the nonprofit Wichita Police Foundation to raise money.
Becca Boldra, executive director of the foundation, said the police department’s Mounted Unit — which often provides crowd-control at large events like Riverfest and bar-closing time in Old Town — is “such a huge asset for the community.”
“What they do aligns so well with our mission,” she said. “Our main focus is providing resources for the department that better the community by preventing and reducing crime, enhancing officer safety, and bridging the gap” between officers and the general public.
One police horse can provide the same level of crowd control as 15 officers on foot, Boldra said.
The new horses, which came from Goddard-based Cowskin Creek Clydesdale Farm, will be the first Clydesdales used by the police department’s Mounted Unit
Clydesdales, which are larger than the standard quarter horses the department currently uses, provide better stability for mounted officers, and have a calmer and more social nature.
“The officer has a better vantage point to seek something out in the crowd, and it allows us as citizens to be able to find an officer more easily,” Boldra said. “And the horses, in general, you see them and you want to go up and find out their names, maybe pet them.
“You bring a horse into the picture and all of a sudden it really does create new conversations that don’t always happen otherwise.”
The Wichita Police Foundation was originally fundraising for just one Clydesdale through its Horse for Heroes campaign. Major donors to the campaign include Traffic Control Services, Marketplace Properties, Patterson Legal Group, Hartman Oil Company and the Old Town Association.
After presenting at an Old Town Association meeting, Boldra said, Together Wichita offered to sponsor a second horse, “which was absolutely incredible.”
Together Wichita is a nonprofit made up of 10 organizations that organize and fund projects to improve the city. Partners are Fleeson Gooing law firm, Friends University, Newman University, Berry Cos., Armstrong Chamberlin, Credit Union of America, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, Spirit AeroSystems, Wichita Area Builders Association and the Wichita Eagle/Kansas.com.
“That second horse probably wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the support of Together Wichita,” she said. “We are extremely grateful for the role they played.”
The horses are currently undergoing police training.
They are expected to make a public debut at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Old Town Farmers Market Plaza, 835 E. First.