Founded in 1986, the Bergen County Police Mounted Unit seized an opportunity to enhance its partnership with the Parks Department to provide greater depth of service to County residents and guests at a minimum cost. Patrons of the vast County Park system were treated to an additional attraction and benefited from highly visible County Police Patrols, in areas police cars could not penetrate.
Utilizing donated horses boarded in the existing county stables, officers who graduated the N.Y.P.D. Mounted Academy undertook the challenge of policing the vast and irregular terrain in the northern facilities as well as the often congested, smaller parks and recreation fields throughout the county.
The combination of a well-trained officer and police mount have allowed for the reduction of the number of officers required to patrol these facilities while increasing the quality of contacts with park patrons. Officers regularly engage the public on a one to one basis, unrestricted by the barrier of patrol car doors. The higher visibility and mobility combined with this slower more methodical approach achieves results no other method can. This is a particular advantage when searching for missing persons.
The inclusion of mounted patrols has not only enhanced the ability of the County Police to meet its police objectives in the parks, it has become an additional resource to municipal police departments. As the abilities and experiences of the Mounted Unit grew, it was offered as a shared service and has supplemented community patrols of their business districts and acted as a force multiplier in order maintenance applications such as crowd control at community civic events, labor disputes, protests or the protection of dignitaries.
While most of the requests for the Unit's services come from the municipal police departments of this county, it has been honored to work with the Port Authority Police, the Hoboken Police, and the New Jersey State Police and on the federal level with the United States Secret Service.
As an extension of its community policing efforts, the Unit also represents County government in educational forums. Members of the Unit have conducted public safety presentations at the Law and Public Safety Institute, various schools throughout the county and at the Meadowlands Arena. The Unit has even won an award for its program for disabled and special education students.