IMPD Mounted Patrol welcomed three new recruits into their ranks earlier this year. It’s the first time in eight years the Mounted Patrol has opened the process of recruiting new officers and one of the largest increases in new officers for the Mounted Patrol at one time in its history.
Ivalee Craney comes to the Mounted Patrol from the ranks of IMPD. A ten-year street veteran of IMPD, she also has thirty years of experience with horses. “When I saw the opening for Mounted Patrol I stepped up and applied. It’s a dream position to combine my career with my passion for horses,” she said.
Craney’s love of horses extends back to the tender age of four when she first started riding. “Back then Fort Benjamin Harrison was still an active military base and they had a physical therapy riding program for military families. My sister being handicapped she was part of that program. My mom made friends with a volunteer who worked with the horses and I’ve been riding ever since,” says Craney. She was even able to have her own horse at the age of fourteen and began a young career in 4-H and horse shows.
Joining Craney in her cohort is Luke Schmitt, a twenty-three-year veteran of IMPD with sixteen years working narcotics. “I came to Indianapolis in 1990 to IUPUI to finish my college education and I got on the IU Police Department from 1990-1994. I applied to several departments around the area, but I wanted to get on at [the Indianapolis Police Department] because it had a Mounted Patrol unit,” says Schmitt. Schmitt was ultimately hired full-time by the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.
When IPD and the Sheriff’s Department merged to become the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in 2007, Schmitt came along and jumped at the first opening to join Mounted Patrol. A self-professed “horse-crazy kid”, Schmitt says with a laugh, “I have three brothers all within four years of age of each other. My dad had a horse and when mom got pregnant with my fourth brother, it was either the horse or the baby that had to go. We voted for the baby, but the horse won out.”
Third, Chad Pryce is also a ten-year veteran of IMPD. “My grandfather had horses when I was real little. He was a part of the Shriner’s back then and rode horses. I always looked up to him for that.” Pryce has spent time in the Academy recently and each have undergone intense training since joining Mounted Patrol this past April. Their friendship for each other is palpable if you see them together. “School is very hard. It’s long riding days, but we’re all good friends now. The comradery has really bonded us well,” says Pryce.
Schmitt adds, “I always thought you just got on a horse and rode. Here in training we’ve learned dressage, an English-type training where you learn to be a really good rider. There’s more than just hanging on and going.” Each recruit to the Mounted Patrol learns cues, how to form a rhythm with their horse, leg use, balance, and combining that with police tactics for things like crowd control. “I enjoy the new aspect of bringing police work into the horses,” says Craney, continuing, “a lot of people coming here probably are used to quarter horses, but we’re dealing with giants at 500 pounds or more. Instead of those tiny feet they have dinner plates.”
Craney spends much of her time riding with Stretch, which she describes as “a total ladies’ man”. “He’s Mr. Personality for sure. He became my number one pick and I’m fortunate to ride him. He likes to play around and likes the ladies…but I didn’t teach him that,” she says with laughter.
Schmitt hasn’t fully settled on his primary horse, but has spent much of his time with Finn. “He’s new and young and inexperienced, but very willing and is learning. I like the challenge of young horses,” he says. “He’s got a ways to go, but he’ll get there. He’s curious, respectful, and needs some time.”
Pryce has selected Jake as his primary horse, one with just as much experience in the police force as Pryce does. “Jake is a people-pleaser. Him and I bonded pretty quick. He’s kind of a nervous horse by nature, but he likes to learn and has great work ethic. He’s been here twelve years and knows the routine. He wants to make sure I’m pleased with him and he loves to work, but he loves his days off, too. He makes that abundantly clear to me,” says Pryce.
“This job differs from everything we came from,” says Pryce. “Luke was in Narcotics. Ivy and I hit the streets every day. We responded to people’s worse days every day. This is the complete opposite. We get to see people at their best. We get to build a bridge for the department and meet people from across the city and world. After ten years of narcotics and bad accidents, this is a breath of fresh air.”
Craney says, “We hold two very important roles even though they intertwine. A lot of people who don’t come Downtown or on a trail don’t know we’re around,” she says. Recently the Mounted Patrol has begun to increase patrols in high-crime neighborhoods, suburban settings, on campuses at IUPUI, the University of Indianapolis and soon, Butler University.
Schmitt adds, “I want people to know in this time of tight budgets and money, it does take a little bit to fund a unit like this. A lot of people might see it as a waste. But we’re such a vital ambassador for the City. To be a world-class city, we’re something people from out of town don’t see in their cities. We’re more approachable than someone in a squad car with the windows up.” He continues, “Plus, if things go bad on our daily routine patrols, we’re worth any little cost. The rewards outweigh any of that to be the ambassador for the City and people of Indianapolis.”