ROCKFORD, Mich. -- More officers will be on the streets of Grand Rapids this holiday weekend and some will be larger than others. We're talking about the horses of the Kent County Sheriff's Department.
As many as four mounted deputies will be patrolling the streets and parks of Grand Rapids for the city's 4th of July Celebrations.
Each horse of the unit goes through extensive training before it hits the streets. Learning not to be afraid of loud things like gunshots or fireworks and not to jump at ordinary things like umbrellas and baby carriages, the horses get used to anything they might come across on the streets at their training facility in Rockford.
The patrol takes on crowds in downtown Grand Rapids regularly, helping to close the streets down after events and monitoring parks. Kent County Sheriff Deputy Donley De Groot says deputies on horseback have advantages in large crowds, saying one can do the work of 14 regular officers.
"We had a situation a few years ago, where there was a shooting in Rosa Parks circle on Fourth of July evening. They couldn't get the ambulance or police cruisers in, so we took four horses and formed a wedge. People know if you're in a cruiser, you're not going to run them over. They don't know what the horses are going to do, so they just part ways. We were able to bring in the ambulance and did the same wedge formation to get it back out."
At the end of the days work, the horses are given a bath and put back in their stalls to rest.