Asbury Park Says ‘Neigh' to Police Horses

The mounted patrol of the Asbury Park Police Department has been dismantled -- a victim of a shrinking budget and the recent recession.

"It was a wonderful experience for the three-plus years we did it," now retired Special Officer Mike Cassidy told NBC New York of the two-officer, four-horse mounted patrol.

The bottom line for Asbury Park, though, was the end of the line for the patrol.

"The horse patrol is not a high priority right now," Deputy Mayor John Loffredo said.

Asbury Park was looking at laying off as many as 35 police officers and civilians to balance its budget.

And while the police PBA union gave up some benefits to save those jobs, the budget knives were going down line item by line item.

"In these economic times we really have to pick and choose our battles," added City Councilman Kevin Sanders.

Asbury Park joins cities like Newark, Camden, Charleston, S.C., San Diego and Tulsa in saying good-bye to its horse patrols.

And while the horses, upkeep, oats and carrots were essentially donated, the idea of designating duties to one full-time officer on horseback was too much for the financially strapped-town. As a special officer retired from the Monmouth prosecutor's office, Cassidy was unpaid.

"What's needed is a different way to police our city," said school Superintendent Dr. Denise Lowe, who said she nonetheless appreciated what the horse patrol meant for Asbury Park.

As for the four horses, they'll be well cared for, officials said.

"We found some great homes for the horses," said Cassidy, who kept two and gave the other two away to nearby farms.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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