High above the crowd, perched on a horse named Capone, and in full dress blue uniform, Sgt. Douglas Muston bends down from his horse to chat with a visitor to Detroit’s Eastern Market. “This is the best part of my job,” he says, “meeting people and reminding them that police officers are usually pretty nice guys.” Sgt. Muston heads up the Mounted Division of the Detroit Police Department and is proud of his work.
The officers of the Mounted Division love their job. Ask them. They unanimously agree that they have one of the best jobs on the police force. Usually interactions with the police are stressful and coupled with the sounds of sirens and flashing lights. Life in the Mounted Division is a little different.
They are still police officers and issue citations from time to time, but their primary tasks are to help with public relations and provide crowd control at special events. They have a regular beat like other divisions, but their beat is designed to interact with people in tourist-heavy areas, such as Greektown, Campus Martius, and Eastern Market.
The Mounted Division of the Detroit Police Department was founded in 1893 and was once considered the oldest mounted division in the country. In 2005, the city’s financial concerns and mismanagement led to the unit being disbanded. However, in 2009, Sgt. Muston convinced Police Chief James Barren that he could find a way to bring the Mounted Division back. Costs of the Mounted Division are met by local philanthropic organizations and friends of the Police Department: the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, for example, helps provide veterinarian care and equipment, and Strategic Staffing Solutions donates feed and stable care.
“I’ve been with the Mounted Division for almost two years now, and I love it,” adds Officer Kevin King. “I get to interact with the public in a very special way.”
SPECIAL NOTE: In late 2015, the Detroit Police Mounted Division tragically lost one of its officers, Sgt. Joseph Abdella. The D Profile extends its condolences to Sgt. Abdella’s family, friends, and colleagues at the Mounted Division. May his memory be eternal.