Meet the Js — the newest members of the VPD's mounted squad
'They couldn’t be better ambassadors to the police department,' says VPD Const. Joanne Hardman
On Tuesday, the VPD mounted squad's three newest members were officially introduced at the police stables in Stanley Park.
Jedi, Jarvis, and Josiah, affectionately called the J's, arrived in early June from a breeding facility in the southern United States where they started their police training at a young age.
Susan Sharp, a sergeant with the VPD mounted unit, says they will be given new names soon. She says the names will be a bit tougher sounding as befits their job, such as Turbo, the name of one of the more experienced patrol horses.
The new horses were purchased as part of succession planning, so that older horses can retire while they are still young and healthy enough to enjoy the rest of their life. The three-year-olds have already allowed the most senior horse, Clyde, to retire at around 19 years of age.
"We couldn't be happier," said VPD mounted unit Const. Joanne Hardman of the new arrivals.
Once their schooling is complete, the horses will each be paired with an officer and begin their official patrol work.
The core duties for the police horses involve patrolling Stanley Park, the beaches on the West Side and the downtown core. They also support the VPD by attending large crowd community events such as festivals and parades.
The ideal police horse, as Sharp explains, has a good temperament and isn't overly reactive. It's very important they remain calm and collected in any situation.
Sharp says the three-year-olds have already shown they possess those qualities by remaining relaxed as a new fence is constructed just behind the paddock where they play and train.
She says they have been more curious than afraid of the sounds from Bobcat machines, saws and hammers and attributes it to the training they received in their breeding facility.
A team of VPD mounted officers and civilian trainers are continuing their training for another couple of months.
The training has included walking around and exposing them to different environments.
"Basically, we sort of look at our training as whatever our imagination can come up with, whether that's umbrellas or big balls or noises, frisbees, fireworks; whatever we can do to gradually expose them to that so that they are comfortable with whatever they may face or see on the street," explained Sharp.
Hardman says she loves seeing the positive effect the horses have on the Vancouver community and visiting tourists. "They couldn't be a better ambassador for the police department," said Hardman. "Everyone loves horses."
Once training is complete, the horses will be able to join the rest of the team on the streets.
Sharp predicts the three J's will be seen patrolling the park, beaches and downtown core by the fall of 2019.