Const. Sarah Groenewegen with the City of Kingston Police is stepping out of the police cruiser and onto a horse, as the department aims to decrease crime while saving money on fuel.
Groenewegen made the transition to horseback three years ago and has since patrolled the downtown core with her horse, Murney, a percheron/thoroughbred cross.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” Groenewegen said. “It’s more of a positive aspect than normal policing. You’re dealing with people who actually want to talk to you — you’re doing more of the public relations side.” She adds that there are several advantages to having a 1,500-pound partner. For one, there’s the height, giving her a vantage point from which she can look down into vehicles when she catches a distracted driver.
Lance Lakins is the manager of Roots on Princess Street and has used Groenewegen and Murney several times over the past three years, and says he has seen a steady drop in crime because of the horse patrol.
Technology also plays a role in that decrease, as many businesses in downtown Kingston are using a free app called “Group Me” to report minor crimes to the police.
“We use it a lot with thefts, so the businesses see that a theft has happened at one store and then it gets sent out to all stores, so it’s really good communication between the stores,” said Groenewegen.
The dynamic duo invites anyone who crosses their path to stop and give Murney a pet on the nose, unless they are on a pursuit.