Kingston police horse put out to pasture as force scraps mounted unit
Move will allow force to hire more two-legged officers
A beloved police horse will no longer patrol the streets of Kingston, Ont., as the force will be scrapping its mounted unit to make room for more human officers.
The decision to begin phasing out the unit — which includes well-known four-legged officer Murney — was approved by the city's police services board Monday.
Chief Antje McNeely told CBC Radio's Ontario Morning it was a difficult call to eliminate the unit, but it will allow them to hire 10 new officers.
"We had some tough discussions within our senior leadership team, but we knew that — in order to be able to hire 10 new officers — that we had to come down with some number crunching."
The police are also deferring the replacement of both an inspector and a service dog in order to hire the new officers, McNeely said.
The hires are necessary to avoid burnout, McNeely said. Kingston police have been dealing with a staff shortage that's required many officers to work overtime, and some specialty unit officers have been pulled into patrol duties to ensure the front lines are fully staffed, she said.
"We're really concerned about officer burnout and the health and safety of our officers, as well as our commitment to our community," McNeely said.
Eight of the 10 new officers will be hired in January, and two more are expected to be brought on in fall 2020.
Murney will be missed
Murney is the mounted unit's lone permanent member, with a backup horse available when needed.
She gained some fame outside of the city in 2016 when she kicked a woman who'd slapped her hip during Queen's University's homecoming.
McNeely said the community is disappointed Murney will no longer be seen patrolling downtown.
"Murney and her rider Sarah have been very much prominent within our community," McNeely said.
Murney was leased by Kingston police and will remain in the care of her owners.