What exactly was the Indianapolis Mounted Patrol doing at the anti-Trump rally in Indianapolis? See how their training prepared them and what techniques were used.
INDIANAPOLIS – On November 12, 2016, organized protesters of President-Elect Donald Trump marched across Downtown. It’s a lawful display of their constitutional rights to free speech and peaceful demonstration. Protestors – of all parties and sides – started on the south lawn of the Indiana State House around 6:00 p.m. and marched toward Monument Circle around 8:30 p.m.
While every citizen has a right to peaceful, organized, assembly, the police carry a responsibility to ensure their safety and the safety of others. Police don’t appear at a protest to just pay attention to the protestors. Police must maintain traffic control for other citizens who are not part of the protest and are simply walking or driving through an area. Police must also protect the property and assets of businesses along a route, especially one as dense as Capitol Avenue, Washington Street, and Meridian Street.
We know from experience “mob mentality” can settle into any crowd quickly. Police must also read a crowd, help them demonstrate safely, and prevent people who wish to turn to violence from doing so.
In this footage from RTV6, it shows IMPD Mounted Patrol moving quickly
into the crowd
This footage also shows police action from officers on foot, in squad cars,
and on bicycles
Officers on all forms of transportation are necessary in any rally, march, or demonstration. The Mounted Patrol is perhaps the most uniquely suited for this kind of police work.
As seen in the footage from RTV6 and others on YouTube, Mounted Patrol officers have some unique advantages and responsibilities:
- The ability to sit as high as 11 feet off the ground, giving more visibility to officers, both to see and be seen. They are frequently the eyes for other officers in the area.
- The ability to move quickly. In the footage, Mounted Patrol units are seen moving quickly into the crowd. It may look aggressive, but Mounted Patrol horses are trained to use follow officer commands and use their entire body to form a moving wall. Here, officers are working to keep people flowing on the agreed-upon route.
- Mounted units are trained to gently push people, and if necessary, insert themselves into a violent situation. An example being two individuals fighting where a Mounted Patrol unit will physically walk between the two to break it up. Police horses, like officers, face danger when doing that. Like “Dan”, the police horse who was openly slapped at a similar rally in Kansas City, Missouri.
There’s also another impact that doesn’t get much coverage. Throughout the night, and daily on patrols around Indianapolis, people walk up to the Mounted Patrol. They want to meet the horses, learn their names, pet them, and just say hello. Mounted units are just as human – and equine – as the next person, or horse. It’s a friendly face from officers and horses in a large crowd.
There was no property damage that night. Two IMPD officers were hurt after rocks were thrown, but not severely. Just seven people were arrested, three of which were from out of town. And hundreds of people got to see what the Indianapolis Mounted Patrol has trained for and does every day.