Article by Tom Hallman Jr.
Officer Cassandra Wells says Murphy did a great job helping her make an arrest last week.
A horse that earned his way onto the Portland Police Bureau’s Mounted Patrol Unit last year after dropping 200 pounds and getting in shape was credited with making his first collar last week.
Murphy, carrying Officer Cassandra Wells, chased down a man suspected of breaking into a building in Old Town and kept him trapped next to a building until cops could slip cuffs on him.
“We were flagged down because someone was trying to break into a building,” Wells said. “He took off, and so did we.”
The suspect ran about six blocks — Murphy galloping after him — before the big horse cornered him.
“It was the first time Murphy has been involved in an arrest,” Wells said. “He did everything I needed him to do.’
He got a treat at the end of the shift, she said.
The arrest was the latest chapter in Murphy’s story, one that began in 2012 when a horse in the Mounted Patrol Unit became sick and had to be put down.
As the unit’s equestrian and training instructor, Jennifer Mack had to find a horse to replace the beautiful and majestic Ian, considered the best horse to have ever served in the nine-horse unit.
Mack had been making calls across the Pacific Northwest, but had been unable to find a horse to join unit — which started in the 1900s, fell victim to the Great Depression and was resurrected in 1979. In all those years, only three horses had ever died on duty.
Mack had looked at more than 20 horses on the Internet, made calls to owners and gone to check some out in person. She brought in two horses for a tryout, but neither made the cut.
Then one day, she clicked on a Craigslist ad for a horse. She studied the photograph, read the description and called the owners who lived in Roseburg.
The horse was named Murphy after “Murphy’s Law,” a play on the idea that if something can go wrong it will.
Mack sensed the horse had possibilities and bought Murphy. He arrived at the mounted patrol barn in Northwest Portland in December 2012. He had 30 days to make the first cut. He weighed 1,900 pounds, about 200 pounds too many. The unit didn’t have a saddle big enough to fit around him.
Over the next year, he lost the weight, learned how to be a police horse and finally went out on the street to train. Now an official memeber of the Mounted Patrol Unit, he has turned out to be a great horse and is now considered second best in the unit.
“If anyone wants to see him, we start our day in Old Town each morning,” Wells said. “Then we move out into the city.”
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–Tom Hallman Jr.