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Police officers once patrolled Portland’s streets on horseback

The Portland Police Bureau had an on-again, off-again relationship with its mounted patrol unit.

Police officers on brown horses ride in a parade.

The PPB’s Mounted Patrol Unit was headquartered at Northwest Ninth and Naito Parkway.

Photo by pdxjeff

Bike saddles weren’t the only saddles Portland police officers once sat on.

Within the last decade, the Portland Police Bureau had a Mounted Patrol Unit. Its members, both human and equine, were familiar sights at parades, protests, and special events for decades. The unit was disbanded in July 2017 when the city’s budget no longer supported its continuance, silencing the sound of hooves on downtown streets.

Here’s a brief overview of the mounted unit’s early history:

1875 — Mounted police are first mentioned as participants in Portland’s Fourth of July parade.

1887 — One horse, a saddle, and a wagon are reported in the Portland Police Bureau’s inventory.

1889 — The chief of police asks the city to fund a horsedrawn patrol wagon. One arrives the following year and is used for transporting prisoners, arrestees, and officers, also serving as the city ambulance.

1899 — The bureau retains only enough horses to pull its patrol wagon as bicycles replace the need for living mounts.

1903 — A mounted patrol unit is reintroduced after bicycles kept getting flat tires on the city’s rougher roads.

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