LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - You'll be seeing fewer mounted police officers out on the streets because shortages within the police department have forced them to cut back on special operations.
The Lexington Division of Police mounted unit started in 1982 with four officers and grew to as many as nine. They've won several top awards at national mounted police competitions. But now they're down to only two.
"Like several other agencies across the nation, we've had to cut back on certain opportunities that we have within the division of police, and the mounted unit was no different," said Lieutenant Brian Maynard of the Lexington Division of Police.
Because of shortages within the division of police, administrators have had to reassign officers from specials operations, like mounted patrol and traffic, to regular patrol.
"Our primary role at the division of police is to respond to calls for service. With the numbers that we've got...two and a half, three years without a recruit class, and low numbers due to attrition and retirements, we have to be able to provide our primary source, which is respond to calls for service," said Lt. Maynard.
For the first time in three years, there are new officers in training, with plans to hire even more. Police say when they get staffing levels back up, they hope to transition officers back to their special operations positions.
"We look forward to hiring an additional class sometime in January or February. We hope that those numbers will bring us up back to an area where we can start supplementing back on our special operations groups," said Lt. Maynard.
Despite the cutbacks, the mounted patrol officers will still compete, in fact, they're getting ready for one next month.