State Police Mounted Unit opens new stable
The State Police Mounted Patrol Unit has a new home.
State officials unveiled the unit’s new stable at the Department of Corrections’ Central Violation of Probation Center near the Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.
The stable will be home to the six horses used by the unit, which debuted only four years ago in 2012.
The Mounted Unit is the brainchild of Master Corporal Alison Meadows. Cpl. Meadows - an avid long-time rider herself – was curious why the state didn’t have a mounted unit and in 2010 started pursuing the creation of one.
The unit now has 11 troopers assigned to it. It is primarily used for ceremonial functions, community outreach and at large events like Firefly and the Delaware State Fair. In just four years, Cpl. Meadows says she sees the impact it’s having.
“Bringing back face-to-face policing is what I think we really need to do. And I think these horses break down barriers and bridge gaps with our citizens," said Cpl. Meadows. "I’ve been on the job since 1996 and I’m communicating with people I know would never have approached my patrol car.”
The program’s partnership with the Department of Corrections allows offenders to learn skills officials say could lead to jobs upon their release.
Inmates assist in handling and providing care for the horses on site, including grooming the horses and cleaning the stalls.
Cpl. Meadows says the program makes sense in a state with three horse racing tracks and a strong Ag industry.
“There’s a lot of opportunity and we try to provide – if an offender expresses an interest in a certain area we’ll also try to facilitate them with an education in that – whether they get to work with our Ferrier when they comes in or they’re interested in the vet care we provide," said Cpl. Meadows. "They get to see first hand what’s going on.”
To date, 8 offenders have worked with the unit – handling and providing care for the horses