Mounted Police Are Patrolling Shopping Centers

Lt. Brian Donovant and his partner Jerry Cook are back in the saddle again. That's because the two Gulfport Police officers are giving up the confines of their warm patrol cars to work on horseback.

You can catch these mounted policemen in the Cross Roads Mall parking lot every weekend this holiday season.

"The biggest reaction we get is: 'I didn't know they did that here.' They think this is only in bigger cities, larger cities, like New Orleans, Atlanta, Memphis, Chicago, New York. But mounted patrol is becoming more and more of a reality across the country." Donovant said.

There are advantages to riding high the police officers said.

"We're ten feet off the ground. We can see the entire parking lot. We can see things that an officer on foot, an officer on bicycle or in the car can't see. Also, we serve as a good deterrent," Donovant said.

"Can I see your driver's license please?" the officers said to pedestrian

The horses are used to patrol during holidays, Mardi Gras, and special events, but police hope the horses will one day become a full-time part of the force.

"We're trying to locate grant monies. The department has been able to budget a little more money each year for the operation of the mounted unit," Donovant said.

Until the mounted patrol becomes a full-time part of the police force, you can bet you'll see these two officers chasing down criminals or just shooting the breeze with interested kids in the parking lot.