Chico needs its horse cops back

Amanda Irons
Amanda Irons

I miss the horse cops.

I know the funding for one horse cop is equivalent to three patrol officers, and I acknowledge that the city’s in financial trouble, but that’s beside the point.

Bumbling around downtown, gracelessly approaching a mounted officer and inquiring if you can pet their gallant stead is textbook Chico. Freshman and future students are being deprived of the authentic Chico experience.

And that’s a bunch of horse manure.

I recall fondly freshman year, intoxicated by the evening, roaming Chestnut, Hazel, Ivy, Cherry and Orange streets and being so amused by the acronym those those streets create. The parties were overflowing with students, and the students were surrounded by horse cops patrolling from their regal perch, surveying police officer and reveler alike. It was simply poetry.

But beyond the nostalgic need for an infusion of horsey patrols, there is a legitimate public safety reason why we should bring the equine constables back. Think about it. The Chico Police Department is planning to cut $1.6 million from the 2013-2014 budget. I can only fantasize about the number of horse officers that could have potentially funded.

In case the lack of funding for horse cops is not enough of an incentive for taxpayers to opt for a tax increase, perhaps the increase in stabbings we’ve experienced is a good enough reason. The decision to cut police officers concerns me as a student. Chico isn’t some fairytale land with benevolent citizens on every corner or vigilantes constantly on patrol defending the innocent.

It’s a college town. Let’s be real about it. Thousands of our students from around the state, the country, and the world are coming together to one place. The only thing that bonds them is whatever their interpretation of Wildcat pride is. Then you must take into consideration the countless transients, gangs and out-of-towners that routinely show up weekend after weekend — not to mention the elusive Butte College students. When you add it all up, it’s just a lot of people in a small town with cheap alcohol and low inhibitions. Mob mentality is easy to follow because people feel protected by the anonymity of numbers. From what I recollect from my statistics class, more people and fewer officers don’t forecast very good odds for well-meaning students.

We can’t accept the doubled-edged sword  of fewer mounted officers and increasing crime. My fellow Wildcats, we should all be mad about this blatant lack of security. We can’t afford to wait until student safety gets so atrocious that city officials feel obligated to make a change.  Write to your congressman. Make your voice heard at a town hall meeting. And when you do, tell them to bring back the horse cops.

Illustration by Liz Coffee
Illustration by Liz Coffee

Amanda Irons can be reached at [email protected] or @Orion_opinion on Twitter.