UPDATE 4:30 P.M. APRIL 13: The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has disbanded the Mounted Unit.
In a release, the department said the move was made in the face of a loss in tax revenue facing Clark County because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"With tax revenues expected to fall to historic lows in Clark County, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department leaders took pre-emptive steps to soften the blow by dismantling the Mounted Patrol Unit," the release said.
The unit had 8 horses, and was funded to support 4 full-time officers, three part-ime staff members, and a sergeant.
Metro said two officers and two part-time staff members will remain with the unit until May 1 to move the horses to new homes.
Several horses will be retired, and one will return to their original owner according to the release.
LVMPD said the Mounted Patrol Unit will be replaced by bicycle officers.
Three positions in the Mounted Patrol Unit were eliminated as part of the first round of lay-off last week.
Affected positions include:
•Part-time Service Aide--Patrol
•Part-time Traffic Control Assistant--Traffic
•Part-time Investigative Aide--Forensics, Human Resources, CSI
•Part-time Forensic Lab Assistant--Forensics•Part-time Support Assistant-Finance, Communications, Airport, Homicide/Sex Crimes, Internal Affairs, Community Engagement
•Part-time Spanish Interpreter--Support Operations
•Part-time Logistics Support Assistant--Logistics
•Part-time Fleet Operations Support Assistant--Fleet
•Part-time Animal CareSpecialist--Mounted Unit
•Part-time Wrangler--Mounted Unit
•Part-time Investigative Aide--SWAT
•Part-time Public Records Coordinator--General Counsel
•Part-time Support Assistant--Gangs/Vice
•Part-time Support Assistant--Records/Fingerprint
•Part-time Sewing Worker--Logistics
•Part-time Polygraph Examiner--Human Resources
LVMPD said they would continue to make crime fighting their key goal, but would likely be faced with more difficult decisions in the future.
ORIGINAL STORY 2 P.M. APRIL 13: The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Mounted Unit could be cut from the department's budget according to a group that claims to be affiliated with LVMPD.
The group Friends of Metro Mounted Unit posted on their LVMPD Mounted Unit Facebook Page Sunday reading in part, "it does appear that our unit may be getting disbanded due to budgetary reasons. That is all the information we have at this point and we cannot speculate further."
The group would not comment further when contacted by email because of their connection to LVMPD, and directed KTNV's questions to the Metro Public Information Office.
Metro has yet to respond to our inquiries.
People like Jennifer David, long time supporter of the Mounted Unit, were distressed by the possibility that the horseback patrol group could be disbanded.
"Losing this unit would be devastating," David said.
Started in 1998, the equestrian officers patrol The Strip, downtown Las Vegas, and neighborhoods, and assist in search and rescue efforts in many areas other officers wouldn't be able to reach.
Their primary role is to assist in crowd control during riots, protests, or large scale celebrations like New Year's Eve.
"They play a huge factor in that," David said, "and with the rate Las Vegas is growing it's a huge factor. If we lose that unit we would lose an enormous and very valuable asset."
According to the LVMPD final budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the mounted unit costs the department $864,581 between salaries, benefits, and operation costs.
"Their operating costs minus the salaries is 160,000 a year," David said.
David believes that is a drop in the bucket compared to the department's total operations cost of $631,964,702.
The Facebook post comes on the heels of the department eliminating more than 100 positions in the department citing the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic as a reason.
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