Ingham County's Volunteer Mounted Deputies Serve in East Lansing

Sunday, April 19, 2015, 6:00 am
By: 
Peyton Lombardo

Photos courtesy City of East Lansing

If you’ve ever been in East Lansing on a busy day like a football game day or during MSU’s Fall Welcome, there’s a good chance you may have seen policemen riding on horses. A lot of people have been curious as to why they use horses instead of the typical patrol cars.

The department in charge of them, the Mounted Unit of the Ingham County Sheriff Department, has the answers.

According to Ingham County’s Lieutenant Dennis Hull, the county has used these horses for nearly 50 years. He says they offer “great crowd control because they sit high up on the horses.” This gives a better overview of the crowds rather than sitting at eye-level in a patrol car. He says they also help move crowds and keep everything under control.

When asked about how often they are used, Hull says “Whenever East Lansing Police Department gives us a call.” This frequently occurs on Fridays and Saturdays in the fall. They’re also here to help out during parades, fairs, and other special events. The horses are able to cover more ground than a typical patrol car since the cars are limited to being in the streets. (Article continues after image.)

So who exactly owns them? “They’re all owned privately,” Hull says. The horses belong to the volunteer deputies of the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Unit. This division is comprised entirely of volunteers. Their official title is “Volunteer Deputies” but Hull confirms that they do not get paid at all, and that they house them and “pay for the horses and upkeep on their own.”

East Lansing Police Chief Juli Liebler is grateful for the work of the Volunteer Deputies: “I want to give them the credit they deserve. The money comes out of their pockets. They feed the horses, they care for the horses, there’s a certification they have to get. This is all volunteer work and we pay them an hourly rate and they donate it all to different charities.” Among other recipients, “they have given the Police Athletic League money.” 

Liebler adds that “they are a very valuable asset for us in terms of crowd control and managing large groups of people. The horses are very well trained and it takes a lot of restraint at times and we’ve never had a complaint about the mounted officers. They are such a great asset during big events with large crowds."

With all of the crowded events that take place in East Lansing, it makes sense to have kept the Mounted Unit at work for the past 47 years. With the help of the Volunteer Deputies, East Lansing is able to remain a safe and fun environment. 

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