Irvine Mounted Unit Is More Active During Holiday Season


Photo Courtesy of Officer Kendra McLoud

Sergeant Mike Meyers on Captain, Officer Brad Boyer on Max, Officer Kendra McLoud on Lucky and Officer Tyler Hollenbeck (not depicted) on Dundee are the four members of the Irvine Police Department’s mounted forces unit.

Kate Hayashi, Assistant Opinion Editor

Irvine residents may notice police officers patrolling shopping centers on horseback as the holiday season comes into full swing. Because of their prior experience with horses, these officers take on the collateral duty of what is known as the Irvine Police Department’s mounted unit.

According to Officer Kendra McLoud, a member of the mounted unit, the unit started in 2017 when Officer Dennis Maisano received approval from the city council and organized a group of four officers interested in using their own horses. The council approved the establishment of the mounted unit out of necessity to manage and patrol the city’s approximately 12,000 acres of open space preserve. 

The officers and their horses attend two trainings per month: one with the Irvine Police Department and the other with the Orange County region. The horses learn how to act under stressful circumstances through what are known as scenarios and sensory training. For example, for sensory training, officers guide the horses through loud noises, such as fireworks and gunshots.

“I actually have seen policemen on horses before, but I didn’t know that they were actually using it as transportation, but more for like tradition or something like that,” junior Luke Shen said. 

Irvine residents may not know about the mounted unit because it does not operate full-time. The unit’s primary foci are to patrol areas that are difficult to reach by car and to act as a source of intimidation for crowd control when necessary, according to McLoud. 

“There will be times whenever we use the horses for assisting other agencies or doing patrol checks in the city where it’s a little more conducive to use horses rather than walk around on foot,” McLoud said. “Horses also happen to be really useful for instances in which you need a larger presence.”

Officers see more occurrences of theft during the holiday season because shoppers tend to drop off presents in their cars before going back to visit other stores. The presence of a visible officer on a large animal in the parking lots acts as an intimidating force that discourages people from breaking into cars, according to McLoud.

Although Irvine rarely encounters situations in which crowd control is necessary, the Irvine mounted unit is often sent to help other jurisdictions. For example, the mounted unit was dispatched to help control the Trump riot in Costa Mesa, according to McLoud. The mounted unit also helps patrol open spaces in Irvine. 

“Recently, we used them to get to different parks like in the Woodbury area because it’s hard for a patrol officer to go in the bike path or sidewalk areas of the city, because you’d have to drive your car somewhere, park and walk,” McLoud said. 

Even though the mounted unit serves the Irvine Police Department, the officers are responsible for the care of their horses. 

“[Taking care of a horse] is very time consuming, and you have to pay for everything,” sophomore Maya Vanek said. “It costs a lot of money, and it is very hard if you have a life outside of horses.”