NEW YORK — Meet the NYPD’s mounted unit.
The team, officials said, is a vital crime fighting tool — and also attracts attention whereever they go.
“The horse itself is large, but we are even larger on top,” said Officer Andrew Youssef. “So being visible, we deter crime before it happens.”
From guiding traffic to crowd control, getting around on horseback has its advantages, according to the officers.
“When you’re on a horse, the public tends to come to you and talk to you — they approach you,” Youssef said.
Established in 1858, it’s the oldest and largest mounted unit in North America, and is still an import unit to the department.
The team has been involved in maintaining the peace during protests, including during Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. But it’s also faced some criticism, officers have been accused of being too aggressive.
In 2010, it was the mounted unit that was first on the scene during the Times Square bomb plot. It took work to clear the crowds, and that’s why officers say training the horses is so important.
“Training is very vigorous with these animals,” said Officer Derek Ghee. “We try our hardest to simulate what goes on out in the streets.”
Ghee added that they want to make sure these animals are safe when they’re out in the streets, so they are exposed to loud noises and sudden movements.
Youssef has been on the force for 17 years, and has been “mounted” for seven years. His partner is 12-year-old Pugsley.
The two patrol parts of Queens, and like every officer paired with a partner, the two have good chemistry and a similar temperament.
Youssef and Pugsley are also now featured in the department’s 2021 K-9 and friends calendar.
Proceeds from the calendar go to the police foundation.
The 2021 #NYPD K9 & Friends Calendar is officially here! Visit https://t.co/aIdAtcpZlr to get yours today. Each donation supports the Foundation’s important public safety programs & makes a perfect holiday gift for any animal lover @NYPDNews @NYPDCT @NYPDTransit #K9 #2021Calendar pic.twitter.com/kUNE98I10d— NYCPoliceFoundation (@nycpolicefdtn) December 3, 2020