Saturday, November 18, 2006

Horsesh*t

According to the N&R, the Greensboro city council is contemplating paying about a third of a million dollars to purchase horses for a downtown mounted patrol, and another third of a million every year to pay for the mounted officers and care of the horses.


That's $650,000 in the first year, and $300,000 a year thereafter for extra police protection in a low-crime area, because downtown property owners and merchants are afraid that something bad might happen.

But there are plenty of areas in Greensboro where bad things are happening, and the council hasn't been talking about increased police protection for them. And this is going on just a week after a building-maintenance bond failed with the voters, saddling the council with some expensive budget items in the upcoming fiscal year.

Can anyone provide a reasonable explanation of this obvious disparity in the proposed distribution of law enforcement resources?

Because it looks to me like upper-middle class council members want to spend scarce law enforcement dollars on people who are like them with respect to race, class, and social connections, and are ignoring people who are different from them in those respects.
Update: Councilman Tom Phillips writes in the comments, "The Council to my knowledge is not considering this. The first N&R article indicated that it was Mike Barber's idea, but he immediately denied it. I was surprised to see that there would be a demonstration on Friday and I don't know who is pushing this. The Mayor may like it, but I can't imagine this having any momentum."
Update II: Councilwoman Sandy Carmany concurs: "I echo Tom's statement - city council as a whole has NOT discussed this Only one, Mike Barber, has mentioned it, but as Tom noted, Mike says it wasn't his idea. My opinion? If the downtown business district folks want to use THEIR extra tax collections on a horse patrol, that's fine with me, but pay for it out of the city's general fund when we have so many other needs, NO WAY!"
That's good news.

16 comments:

Tom Phillips said...

David, I don't know if I'm upper middle class or no class, but this horse thing is nuts. The Council to my knowledge is not considering this. The first N&R article indicated that it was Mike Barber's idea, but he immediately denied it. I was surprised to see that there would be a demonstration on Friday and I don't know who is pushing this. The Mayor may like it, but I can't imagine this having any momentum.

meblogin said...

What is the cost using cars to accomplish the same task? Other cities use horses....why? I would start with that premise and work backwards to the rich idea.
thanks

David Boyd said...

What about those Segway things? Here's the off-road version for when hot pursuit takes you from downtown to The Vineyards. While not quite as cool as a noble steed, the smell is better.

David Wharton said...

Tom, thanks for clarifying. The N&R story gave the impression that this was something council was interested in, and I'm glad it's not.

Anonymous said...

Why do you hate horses?

Cara Michele said...

meblogin: Cars don't work for downtown because of the traffic. Elm Street becomes one long parking lot on weekend nights. That's why we have bike cops now.

Like bikes, horses can go places (quickly) that cars can't go, and they can help with crowd control and breaking up fights. But they're also more expensive than bikes.

The N&R article indicates that Capt. Oates invited the Fayetteville folks to Greensboro as part of a feasibility study, and that the demonstration was attended by "members of the City Council, the city manager's office, [and] the police command staff." Apparently somebody is considering this.

Sandy Carmany said...

I echo Tom's statement - city council as a whole has NOT discussed this Only one, Mike Barber, has mentioned it, but as Tom noted, Mike says it wasn't his idea.

My opinion? If the downtown business district folks want to use THEIR extra tax collections on a horse patrol, that's fine with me, but pay for it out of the city's general fund when we have so many other needs, NO WAY!

Darkmoon said...

They use Segways in NYC I believe. And a couple other major cities. THey're replacing the mounted troops. The Segways can also move pretty darn quickly.

They're also coming out with a four wheeler that operates similarly.

Heck, ATVs. I don't see why the upkeep of horses will be less than gas/maintenance or even electricity/maintenance (if you go Segway route).

We seriously don't need mounted police. I lived in Seattle for almost 15 years and I hardly ever saw mounted cops except for parades and such. Greensboro? Mounted police? You've got to be joking.

jw said...

David,

You don't want downtown mounted police? I guess that makes you a NEIGH-sayer!

Brenda Bowers said...

David if this bit of nonsense upsets you then please go to my post of August 18 and 25, 2006 to see just how much our city council is pouring into downtown that come under those blanket vote items at the meetings. They are in effect "ear marks". I dug into the 2006 budget to the information after Sandy made a slip of the tongue on Hoggards blog. No one seemed to notice or care but Roch. The sludge just seems to keep rolling out of City Hall. Brenda Bowers (And So I Go....)

Anonymous said...

As someone who has owned horses, this sounds like a fun idea, but a very very bad idea.

Horses are much more expensive to own and operate than cars.

I have 2 cars, but I certainly cannot afford proper upkeep for a horse.

But worse this is not good for the horses. Their feet and legs are not designed for the hard concrete of city streets.

Even with expensive rubber boots (instead of shoes), this is extremely bad for their legs. This will lead to all sorts of leg injuries and also to cases of founder of the hooves, which is extremely painful.

A horse puts about 1,100 pounds on their small feet, and those feet need to be landing on soft dirt or grass, not pavement.

Again, I love horses, and forgetting the outrageous cost of this measure, it is BAD for the horses.

Anonymous said...

You state that Downtown has a low crime rate. It should be noted the millions of dollars that individuals have invested in the Downtown housing market.

Are their investments not worth protecting? Granted I would rather see foot patrol than horse patrol.

David Wharton said...

Anonymous, I don't believe that the dollar amount of investment in an area should be the guide to the degree of police protection it gets.

The crime rate in downtown indicates to me that it is getting adequate police protection now, without horse patrols.

That isn't true for a number of other places in town, where law-abiding citizens feel like they have to hide in their own homes at night.

Sue said...

If it were suggested, would you want mounted police in high crime areas?

The general idea behind mounted police is two-fold: (1) they can see over crowds and see what's happening a distance away and (2) they can disperse groups handily.

They also can move quite well off-road. You think it would help in higher crime areas?

I have no opinion as to what the city council might decide if this were an issue, but downtown is not simply another geographical area. It's a jewel-in-the-making and like all parts of Greensboro, worth protecting. It has special needs.

Of course, high crime areas need more help first and I wish we had the bucks to solve all of it right now. I just don't dismiss mounted police out-of-hand.

David Wharton said...

Sue, I understand the argument that downtown is economically important to all of the city, and agree with it in substance.

But when I ask myself whether those economic benefits have made their way to Phillips Avenue, and who is looking out for their economic interests via law enforcement ...

At this point, I don't think the cost/benefit ratio of mounted police downtown is justifiable.

We need more police officers in Greensboro, period.

And a good police chief, too.

Anonymous said...

As a horseman myself, I may be bias, but the facts remain as they have always been. Horses can be costly, no more than other idea's I've read here, but the truth is horses can be obtained thru adoption and used in this capacity effectively. Many people do not like the idea simply because it is not their own. Horses do not produce smog, and fuel is growing all around. If the concern is with "Poop", well get a shovel, put it in your flower garden.
Lastly, I would crush the issue of having more needed area's protected, simple, rotate the excess car patrols out of downtown into the urban crime zones to better cover those area's. Now, that being said, does anyone wish to be corrected on how they've bashed our president?