Irvine’s first-ever mounted unit has quickly become a staple and kid favorite since it was launched last year. Everywhere these horses show up, there’s a line of people who want to pet them and take photos.
“It’s really gratifying to see what effect it has on people,” said Sgt. Mike Meyers, who leads the unit. “People love animals. They want to know about these horses and come up and ask questions. Cops on horses are less intimidating, and people want to be a part of it.”
Horses help patrol Irvine’s open spaces
Meyers and his fellow mounted officers patrol the city’s Great Park and open spaces, such as Bommer Canyon, that are difficult for vehicles to get around. Horses are a perfect fit because one-third of Irvine is permanently preserved for parks, trails and open space.
They also patrol outdoor concerts and greet residents at city sponsored events like National Night Out, Irvine Global Village Festival and Spooktacular Fun Days. The unit is a crucial part of the police department, whose mission is “working in partnership with the community.”
“This is a program that’s going to draw people in and let them know that this is your police department and we are about serving you,” Meyers said.
FBI data show Irvine has had the lowest rate of violent crime of any large city in the nation for 12 straight years.
Meyers and fellow sergeant Dennis Maisano founded the unit after two years of planning and approval from the City Council in June 2017.
Maisano has since retired, but the unit added officers Brad Boyer and Kendra McLoud. The three officers ride their own horses.
“We love it so much that we are always willing to be out there and go up to people and answer their questions,” Meyers said. “It’s our love. It’s our passion.”
Meet the police officers who keep Irvine the safest city in America
The Irvine Police Department will host its annual open house Oct. 20, where residents can get a glimpse of what goes into policing in America’s safest city.
Guests will be welcomed by the department’s mounted and K-9 units, as well as various police vehicles. Kids can enjoy a bike rodeo, bounce houses, games and face-painting.
There also will be tours of the police department building, food trucks, music and more.
The event is 10 a.m.–2 p.m. at the Irvine Civic Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza. Ride your bike to the civic center or take free shuttles from parking lots at Woodbridge and Creekside high schools.
For more information, visit irvinepd.org or call 949-724-7000.