From COVID unemployment to Pa. PD’s most recent recruit

By Jack Panyard
LNP, Lancaster, Pa.

LANCASTER, Pa. — Veteran Lancaster town police Officer Scott McDonald just broke in a new rookie companion: He is 8 yrs aged and weighs 1,975 lbs ..

Angus, a Percheron workhorse, has been patrolling the streets of downtown Lancaster with McDonald on his back for a couple of months. Section enforcer, part goodwill ambassador, the brawny steed is generating good friends and supporting to preserve the peace as aspect of the Lancaster Mounted Unit.

In some approaches, McDonald mentioned, Angus can do the perform of 10 officers. His dimensions intimidates criminals, and he can navigate crowds with ease. When he is on the transfer, individuals make way.

“You can yell at me and argue with me,” McDonald claimed, “but my horse won’t care what you have to say. He is gonna hold going.”

Even with all that raw electricity, Angus is a people today horse, and section of his occupation is to aid the section construct associations with the group. The mounted device can make upward of 200 public appearances a 12 months, including school visits, block events and the National Night Out.

Even with staying a tiny skittish all over storm grates and water puddles, Angus is acclimating to his new position, and he’s a excellent-tempered animal.

“He is bought a excellent disposition,” McDonald claimed. “He’ll appear up to you and desires the interest, but he’s not pushing his bodyweight all-around. He’s not getting nosy and, like, pushing you.”

The rookie

Angus is the latest and smallest of a few equine officers in the Lancaster unit, which contains 10-yr-olds King and Jake, who weigh 2,415 lbs and 2,140 lbs ., respectively. Each horse has a selected officer, and they all reside in stables at Long’s Park on Harrisburg Pike.

Angus joined the device adhering to the retirements of Ozzy, 24, and Liam, 23, who will stay out their golden a long time on a farm in the southern end of the county. Liam had been with the pressure considering the fact that 2005, and Ozzy considering that 2009.

Prior to signing up for the unit, Angus served in the tourism field, pulling carriages across Mackinac Island in Michigan, where by vehicles are not authorized.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down tourism, Angus lost his career and his home. He modified palms a few of moments before ending up with a family members in Oley, Berks County, which is the place McDonald discovered him.

His proprietor said Angus, who was accustomed to functioning, experienced become restless.

“She explained, ‘I really like him, but he needs a occupation,’ ” McDonald explained. “He demands any individual that is familiar with how to get the job done him.”

McDonald tested his well being and temperament, and how he responded to basic commands and the equipment he would dress in for the work. He wished to be absolutely sure Angus would be a good in shape with the device mainly because a new horse is a substantial long-term expense.

The mounted unit is supported by the Lancaster City Police Basis, a nonprofit concentrated on basic safety in the town and giving law enforcement the equipment they require.

Schooling the new recruit

Angus experienced a rocky start out when he arrived in the county in November 2022. In just the very first two months of education, he experienced thrown McDonald off his back again, separating two of the officer’s ribs.

He has due to the fact settled in.

It typically will take 8 months to a yr to teach a horse to patrol solo in the town, McDonald explained. The horses in the unit are skilled for navigating widespread town obstructions, dealing with chaotic streets, and navigating unique instances, these kinds of as encountering other animals, fireworks and gunfire.

“We are functioning from their instinct,” McDonald mentioned. “Their intuition in the wild when they see anything they never like is to flip and operate. They are a prey animal in the wild.”

Police coach new horses by using them out to calmer areas with other horses in the device to expose them to points they could not be applied to. Officers will established off fireworks around the horses in secluded places, having them used to the seem and sight. To acclimate them to gunfire, they get started by shooting an airsoft gun at a rubbish can lid, gradually graduating to a paintball gun, to blanks and then to live ammunition.

Angus assists officers in managing visitors incidents, issuing citations, pursuing criminals and managing crowds. His unit, which has been working in the town since 1979, usually patrols amongst Vine and Lemon streets, masking a six-block stretch in the coronary heart of downtown.

Lancaster’s mounted law enforcement unit is a single of a handful of related forces in Pennsylvania, which includes units in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Bethlehem, York and Allegheny County.

McDonald mentioned the Lancaster unit hopes to add another horse and officer to the team before long.


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