Beyond the Headlines

Horse Sense

Posted: Jan 11, 2012 11:56 AM ET Last Updated: Jan 11, 2012 11:56 AM ET

If Halifax Police Chief Frank Beazley gets his way, two of the most popular members of the police department will be put out to pasture, permanently.

Facing what he calls a "lean" budget, Beazely is planning to cut the horse unit, along with the bike patrol unit. That means, Sarge and Cruise, who are now used primarily for public relations events, will be sold or donated to a community group.

 Beazley says, facing tough times, something had to go, and the horse and bike units are "not the core part of our business"

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But let's put those cuts in perspective. Chopping the horse unit will save the department $15,700 a year (the bike unit costs $16,000 a year). Out of total budget of $71.96 million that's a saving of 0.02%.

To put it in terms most of us can understand, if you're take home pay is $50,000 a year, and you needed to cut 0.02% from your household budget, you would have to find a way to save a grand total of $10 a year. So, for the police department, cutting the horse unit is the equivalent of you foregoing two lattes over the next 12 months.

Now, this isn't a  done deal. The proposed budget must still be approved by the police commission and city council.

Councillor Sue Uteck is already on record saying she will fight to save the horse and bike units. Uteck told CBC news she wants to try to find a corporate sponsor.  

Some members of the public are speaking out on the Halifax Police Departments Facebook page. Adele Cormier Dionne writes, " I think that it would be a Sin to take the bicycles and the horses off the streets in the summer. The interaction between the officers and the children is an essential part of policing in our city."

And Scott McMillan suggests more fuel efficient vehicles for the HPD fleet as a means of saving money.

So what do you think? Are the horse and bike units fluff that the city can no longer afford? Or should the Chief sharpen his pencil and find another way to save 0.02% from his budget?

You can leave comments below. We would love to hear from you.


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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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