LAPD Mounted: A Vital Unit, Supplemented Throughout History and Today by LAPD Reserve Officers

Reserve Officer Bill Ahmanson

As reserve officers, we are often reminded in this publication or at the Twice a Citizen dinner that the Reserve Corps was born out of a need for officers during World War II. The success of using civilians to supplement full-time officers prompted the City to establish the Corps as an official LAPD entity in 1947. Shortly afterward, in 1948, “a Mounted Reserve Corps or Troop began in the San Fernando Valley,” per the 150th anniversary yearbook, the first LAPD Mounted Unit.

Time passed and this unit disbanded. It was not until 1981 that a group of full-time officers volunteered their own horses and equipment to “assist in effectively dealing with dangerous and potentially explosive incidents.” Because this unit exceeded expectations, especially during the 1984 Olympics, a full-time mounted unit was established in 1987. Originally composed of 35 officers, they were designated Metro E Platoon. Being a Metro unit, 85% of their duties were related to crime suppression, which led to numerous confiscations of guns, ammunition and pounds of narcotics, resulting in hundreds of arrests and citations. Unlike other platoons, Mounted has superior crowd-control capabilities.

Officer staffing shortages have decimated this valuable unit, reducing the number to about 20 officers. Like a division, when you factor in vacations, days off and IOD, the day-to-day number of officers available for crime suppression is low. Being short-staffed adversely affects the results like those mentioned above. It is short-sighted of the Department to not fully staff this unit. Like reserve officer foot beats, crime practically stops when the horses arrive. Let’s not forget the value the Mounted Unit brings to unlawful assemblies. Use of force is practically nil, and crowds leave the area when confronted by a 1,200-pound animal. When there is a crime problem, like the recent “smash and grabs,” Mounted answers the call for crime suppression. On major holidays and events, the unit is deployed to ensure public safety in places like Venice Beach, L.A. Live and Hollywood Boulevard, to name a few.

In August, I had the pleasure of being in Mounted School, or horse camp, as my daughters called it, with Sergeant Sanfillippo and Officer Jacob Palacios. The training is four weeks, five days a week, starting at 0600, for a total of 200-plus hours, which greatly exceeds POST standards. An additional week is performed in the field. By the end of the program, we were riding at a level far above what other departments train. A captain with LASD begrudgingly told me that LAPD has the best mounted unit in the country.

It is a pleasure to now be certified and able to participate in mounted duties along with Reserve Officers JT Alpaugh, Steven Alegre, Peter Zarcone and Sue Leskera. Hopefully, the Department will see the wisdom in again fully staffing this incredible resource for the city of Los Angeles.

Officer Ahmanson and his fellow classmates graduating from LAPD Mounted School