August 19, 2008

“What is the point,” I wondered as I walked to Burger King for my dinner, “of mounted police in the City of London?”

As I queued for my Whoppa I mused that surely a horse was an obsolete technology for the front line in the war against crime and terror in the 21st century.

I mean, what are horses good for? Is it sensible for an expensively trained, well-equipped police officer to be seated on top of half a ton of sentient and volatile semi-domesticated herbivore inches away from speeding traffic and any number of sudden distractions?

In a crowd a motor vehicle becomes an obstacle and a liability. In a crowd an officer on foot is barely visible and can only influence a handful of people. In a crowd a horse is a vantage point, a form of transport, a signalling platform and an icebreaker….A horse can run faster than a man. A horse can wade through deeper water than any motor vehicle. A horse emits less carbon than an internal combustion engine per hour (depending on diet, I suppose). A horse can be reassuring, but assertive and it appreciates small treats and gentle patting.

There are some old technologies that still have their place.

I reminded myself to look carefully at legacy systems and not to shoot the police horses when we change things….What do they do with police horses once they get too old?

My burger was rather tough.


One Response to “Horseplay”

  1. Here in Chicago we have mounted police as well. In certain parts of the city we also have police on Segways. The segways provide the officer with all of the advantages you mentioned above (save for the going in deep water bit). New age mounties?

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