Tom Godby envisions a future where the Mounted Patrol is the face of IMPD

Tom Godby’s surname is one many Indianapolis residents likely recognize immediately. Affixed to a fleet of Godby Heating and Air vans that roam central Indiana, Tom Godby built a heating and air conditioning business when only 20% of homes had air conditioning. His life has been filled with “blessings, luck, and some skill” according to the man himself, “but mostly just being in the right place at the right time.”

Godby has served 2.5 years on the board of the IMPD Mounted Horse Patrol Association. A role he describes as “incredibly fun, because if it wasn’t, I’d stop doing it.” He brings a wealth of experience in business and philanthropy to the Mounted Patrol. Having been involved in real estate, banking, medical contracting, charter schools, and the heating and air conditioning business, there’s 50 plus years of experience, skill, and relationships to draw from. And in an even more fitting twist, “My son was an actual cowboy on the Padlock Ranch in Wyoming. It’s 800,000 acres,” says Godby.

That may be why after seeing and hearing about pristine Wyoming ranches Godby was embarrassed by Indianapolis’ Mounted Patrol facility. “When I saw them,” he said, “where the officers work, I was horrified. It was embarrassing. I knew they needed something. Being a friend to [Board President] Turner [Woodard], I joined to help secure property for them. Now we’re about 30 days away from that becoming a reality.”

“I’ve enjoyed the horse patrol board more than any other, and I’ve been on a lot of boards, like Riley Children’s Hospital and Peyton Manning’s Children’s Hospital,” Godby adds. Godby also has a solid resume of public service work from 40 and 50 years ago.

“I was a city fireman from 1967-75 when I came out of the service. This was at a time when things were pretty bad in parts of Indianapolis. There were riots and burnings back then, particularly around Indiana Avenue. There was a lot of comradery between us and the police department. They’d hang out at our stations for brief breaks, and we’d never respond to a fire in places without a police escort,” he said. It may sound dire, but Godby recalls it as “a real fun part of my life”, a recurring philosophy of his.

There was no Mounted Patrol unit in the 60’s and 70’s. It had been disbanded in favor of cars years earlier. But in the 80’s Mayor Stephen Goldsmith brought the Mounted Patrol unit back after pleas from Downtown businesses for more personable security. “I remember seeing them on West Street, and at the Marion County fairgrounds around that time,” recalls Godby.

The Indianapolis Mounted Patrol has shrunk and grown and shrunk and grown since the 80’s. “I’ve spoken to people in Dallas and New York, where their Mounted Units could be a department unto themselves. But you expect that from places like that. But I don’t believe that at our size that means we have to have sacrifice quality, service, or efficiency at scale,” says Godby.

Some of those changes in quality and service may require some additions and changes to the Association board itself. “We have to be connected and inclusive.  We have little ethnic diversity on our board and that’s as important on boards as it in public service and business.”

“I see two other things with this I have a vision for and some others do, too,” he says, “Mounted Patrol could be the face of our department. It’s something the visitor’s bureau could latch on to. Second, and more important, I’d like to talk to Chief Riggs and Mayor Hogsett about getting the Mounted Patrol in our poor neighborhoods. The only interaction with police in these neighborhoods is when someone’s been shot. Having these guys ride in neighborhoods gives them – and especially kids – a positive interaction.”

With that vision and a new facility, Godby says, “In 10 years we’re going to have another half dozen officers on horseback. I think it’ll be the pride and the face of IMPD. You couldn’t put a better picture out front for conventions and public safety. It’d be a great tribute to the Association and IMPD.”

Godby’s business successes meant in part being in the right place at the right time. It’s success and luck he hopes to transfer to everyone in Indianapolis. “My dad used to say two things. First, it doesn’t matter what you can do, just what you can get others to do and two, find out what people want and give it to them.” For the citizens of Indianapolis, that’s increased public safety and an ebbing of violent crime.  He says, “I’m excited to build a world class equestrian facility, it’s the first step toward everything.”

Missy Roetter recalls that time IMPD Mounted Patrol appeared on Letterman’s “Stupid Pet Tricks”

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, you would expect Missy Roetter to have a soft spot in her heart for horses, and you would be right. Roetter grew up in Louisville, and enjoyed riding lessons since she was 3. “I did all the usual stuff from lessons to riding camp, to jockeying sale horses and competing in college.” She is currently a staff member of Traders Point Hunt and a polo player for the Hickory Hall polo club. She was educated in finance at the University of Louisville, and spent 20 years working in retail and sales. It was L.S. Ayers, whose Indianapolis store operated at the corner of Washington and Meridian Streets where Carson’s is located today, that brought her to Indianapolis in 1985.

Missy Roetter

Missy Roetter and Huey during a fox hunting session

With the promise of new job and career development, she would soon meet her husband Fred in the Ayres Tea Room while having a lunch with a mutual friend. Together they would begin developing a deep level of service and commitment to their new home.

“My husband was working for the city’s legal department. He wrote the contract for IMPD Mounted Patrol when they moved to their 10th street location,” says Roetter. The 10th street location was near where the canal terminates on its north end today. That location was the third temporary location for the Mounted Patrol after Mayor Goldsmith tore down a barn where Lucas Oil Stadium sits today. “That location on 10th street was small. “It was convenient for the officers to get Downtown, but not conducive for the unit,” she says.

“Fred was good friends with other [Mounted Horse Patrol Association] board members and they eventually got me on the board, too, and I just love it,” she says. Roetter’s husband would later become deputy prosecutor and city attorney during Mayor Stephen Goldsmith’s administration in the mid-to-late 90s.

Today Roetter is the Youth Director at Trinity Church and says her desire to continue serving with the Mounted Patrol comes from several reasons. “I have this deep down feeling to help public service and safety. I love horses and grew up with them in my life. It’s a great opportunity for people to understand all police officers aren’t bad. They’re super valuable, even when you don’t want them to be, because nothing moves a crowd like these guys. They can be extremely useful with an officer 5 feet above the ground. It’s a valuable

Missy remembers some of the earlier publicly that the unit experienced. There was the cover of an Indianapolis Woman magazine featuring the three female officers and their horses. Roetter also recalls Officer Lester Stevens and Lightning performing during a “stupid pet tricks” bit on The Late Show with David Letterman. “The horses then were more quarter horse than draft horse, and this one that Lester rode would do the Electric Slide,” says Roetter. 

That bit first appeared in 1996 and is currently available on YouTube. Also in the video are Officers Mary Allender, Karen Wheeler, and Jane Klutzky.

Mike Halstead helps usher Mounted Patrol into a new facility after sharing another one with IMPD for 18 years

If you could choose any place to live or build a business 18 years ago, Fountain Square was likely low on the list. Mike Halstead saw a glimmer of opportunity there for his new architecture and planning business. “Even if this neighborhood doesn’t rebound,” Halstead told himself, “the price is right, it’s an historic district, it’s close to Downtown, and it has a shared parking lot with the police. Unless you’re a criminal, this is great!” For Halstead Architects, it’s paid off.

Mike Halstead at work, after having lost a bet the Bears would beat the Packers.

Mike Halstead at work, after having lost a bet the Bears would beat the Packers.

Mike Halstead graduated in 1987 from the Ball State University College of Architecture and Planning. After working for another architecture firm for a few years, Halstead started his own firm 24 years ago that focuses on not-for-profits. Halstead opened a second office, in Marian, Indiana, about 8 years ago.

Over the past two decades Halstead has seen a remarkable transformation in Indianapolis and its neighborhoods. The business’ home of 18 years in Fountain Square has probably seen the most remarkable transformation of any neighborhood in the city. But one thing that hasn’t changed much in the same span of time is creating a permanent home for the Indianapolis Mounted Patrol unit.

“Probably three years ago we started doing work at the former Central State hospital grounds for Chris Piazza. Chris was a developer that wanted to restore some of the historic buildings there. We helped on the center grounds, which is now occupied. [Chris] had talked to IMPD about moving into the old laundry building and our relationship with the Mounted Patrol has grown from there,” says Halstead.

The Mounted Patrol is not a tax-funded entity beyond the officer’s salaries and some crucial basics like food. The horses, facilities, upkeep, and healthcare of the horses is the responsibility of the IMPD Mounted Horse Patrol Association, as well as training and seminars for officers. This arrangement protects horses from being treated like city property at the end of their careers and from requirements that they be auctioned off like old police cars or other equipment.

“I started as a consultant and they later asked me to be on their board”, says Halstead.

Halstead and his firm of 10 architects have helped guide the Mounted Horse Patrol Association through a 2.5 year-long property swap and acquisition process that is about to be completed. The new grounds on the near west side will be used for new stables and facilities for officers.

“I think once they have a permanent home and a permanent structure people will appreciate more what they do and the service they provide,” says Halstead. Without hesitating he continues, “There’s no question they’re underappreciated. If you’ve ever been to an event with the Mounted Patrol, having them there changes the environment so quickly. You come up in a police car, people get negative and aggressive. But trot up on a horse and it calms everyone down. I don’t know what it is. The horses just change the whole context and dynamic.”

Halstead hopes that as Indianapolis becomes more urban and new transit develops brining more residences and people downtown, that even IMPD itself sees more value in the service of the Mounted Patrol.

Halstead Architects team members, "on vacation" at the Taj Mahal.

Halstead Architects team members, “on vacation” at the Taj Mahal.

“Having a structure is a thing of pride and responsibility. It’s an awareness of what they stand for and what they do. I think in the temporary and dilapidated trailers they’re in now it makes it difficult for them to aid the public. I mean, can you imagine bringing an elementary school to their current facility? You can’t even tell them the history because there’s no way to display historic memorabilia,” says Halstead.

Halstead’s firm has the experience to know that not-for-profits working out of sub-standard facilities don’t garner respect from the constituents they’re there to help. Halstead remarks, “We find that in a lot of work with mental health, social service and community based not-for-profits the facilities the clients come to is worse than them couch surfing, so why would they go there?” Adding, “It’d be like having police officers driving 25-year-old cars they’re constantly band-aiding. How could you view or trust them as professionals?”

“I moved my business to a building in Fountain Square 18 years ago in what was basically one of the last underdeveloped areas in Indianapolis because there was a police department across the street,” says Halstead, mentioning public safety drives so much of what business does and where they locate jobs.  “No one locates a business or home in an area that’s underserved by the police because you think it’s a good business decision – you do that out of necessity and cost.”

Looking ahead as fundraising efforts begin in earnest, Halstead beams, “I’d like for this project to be like most all of our projects: that once it’s accessible the first thing they complain about is they’re outgrowing their space. That’s how I know we’ve been successful.”

The Mounted Patrol Association is seeking donations for the facility, which will largely be paid for with private funds. Donation forms and more details about the facility plans are available now.

Indianapolis Mounted Patrol plans new facilities on near west side

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Mounted Horse Patrol Association are planning new facilities on the near west side of Indianapolis, adjacent to their current property along Tibbs Avenue and West Washington Street.

The Mounted Patrol has an obvious need for horse stables and grazing facilities, requiring more land than a typical police station and parking lot. The Horse Patrol Association supplements the city budget by raising money to fund much of their capital expenditures themselves without taxpayer assistance. This is where you can help by donating to the cause.

The City of Indianapolis covers costs associated with bedding, hay, facility maintenance like mowing, and trash service. The HPA covers the cost of the horses, officer training, fence supplies, grooming supplies, training aids, and many supplies like shovels, picks, saddles, salt blocks, and more. This is where you can help by donating to the cause.

IMPD Mounted Patrol Offices

13-year old construction trailers currently used by IMPD Officers

A new plan forward for the Mounted Patrol

A new site plan is in place. After 13 years of temporary housing in discarded construction trailers, new plans call for a land swap at the site of the former Central State Hospital with the nearby Indiana Medical History Museum. The result is more space for police officers and horses that will be permanent and long-lasting. New storage facilities for feed and hay will make caring for the horses simpler. New construction will also make the horses and officers more comfortable in severe weather.

Proposed IMPD Mounted Patrol Facilities and Land Use

Proposed IMPD Mounted Patrol Facilities and Land Use

The new facilities are bordered by Tibbs to the west and Vermont to the North. Washington Street is just south of the new facilities. This location gives quick and efficient access to Downtown patrol areas, as well as a central location for deployment across Indianapolis.
Proposed Facility Floor Plans

Proposed Facility Floor Plans

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The new facilities are bordered by Tibbs to the west and Vermont to the North. Washington Street is just south of the new facilities. This location gives quick and efficient access to Downtown patrol areas, as well as a central location for deployment across Marion County.

Your donation will directly fund the construction and development of IMPD’s new Mounted Patrol stables and offices. Together we can ensure the safety and health of our City’s horses, but also the dignity and respect to our officers.

Polo At Sunset, a benefit for Mounted Patrol on July 29

An evening of polo to benefit the IMPD Mounted Patrol and Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding.

At the Hickory Hall Polo Club

Photos by Lesa Nelson

See more photos from this event

 

Thanks to Go Ape for donating a $60 gift card for the event
IMPD Mounted Patrol

IMPD Mounted Patrol

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