Spokane non-profit prepares to patrol parks on horseback

Spokane non-profit prepares to patrol parks on horseback

A Spokane non-profit is in the midst of training to patrol local parks on horseback.

Spokane Community Oriented Policing Services, also known as Spokane C.O.P.S., is an organization dedicated to improving public safety through community outreach. The group is set to debut its new mounted patrol unit in June.

For president Traci Ponto, it’s been 20 years in the making. Ponto said she was part of the Spokane Police Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit in 1994, but it was forced to disband due to a lack of personnel. Now it’s getting a reboot. The unit is made up of 17 volunteers and horses.

“We’ve signed on to be volunteers and this is our time and our dime,” Ponto said.

Ponto said some of the volunteers have a background in law enforcement. The team will work with the horses in hopes of cutting down crime in Spokane parks.

“People are coming there to do drugs, you might have some gang activity, you might have some juveniles that are being disorderly,” Ponto said.

Spokane C.O.P.S. executive director Patrick Striker believes a visible C.O.P.S. presence will lead to more families visiting the parks, translating to less crime.

“It’s a good way to encourage people to get out of your house, come into the parks. Take back your parks from a lot of the problems that we’re seeing,” Striker said. “Come to the parks and own those spaces so that some of the less desirable activities aren’t going to come there because we’re there.”

Striker said the unit will make its first appearance at Neighbor Days in West Central on June 1.

If you’re interested in joining the Mounted Patrol Unit, call (509) 625-3300.