LAPD’s Mounted Platoon to host trail ride and benefit dinner

August 28, 2014
Officers of LAPD's Mounted Platoon during a training session at Ahmanson Equestrian Center.

Mounted Platoon Leader Lt. Tony Lomedico, left, speaks to officers during a training session at Ahmanson Equestrian Center.

By Tae Hong

The Los Angeles Police Department is most definitely horsing around — when it comes to its Mounted Platoon, that is.

As the platoon looks to host its annual fundraising trail ride and benefit dinner on Nov. 7 and 8, it also hopes to attract more interest to its program, a part of the force’s Metropolitan Division.

The trail ride offers participants a ride through the city’s historic landmarks with the platoon, as well as lunch and a T-shirt. Donors can also attend a benefit barbeque dinner with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and his wife, which includes a live auction.

An officer of LAPD's Mounted Platoon during a training session at Ahmanson Equestrian Center.

An officer of LAPD’s Mounted Platoon during a training session at Ahmanson Equestrian Center.

The platoon has raised about $35,000 in donations this year, most of it from a single private donor, said Platoon Leader Lt. Tony Lomedico. They hope to push that number to $40,000 to $50,000 by the end of the year.

Operated since 1987, the platoon keeps 27 horses in its 40-stall barn inside the Ahmanson Equestrian Center, which has 26 mounted officers and three sergeants.

Horses can complete up to 20 years of service, he said.

The platoon’s main roles consist of crime suppression, crowd control and search and rescue missions, said Joe Willey, who has been head trainer at the LAPD Mounted Academy for eight years. He leads twice-a-month group training sessions at the center.

Mounted officers frequent skid row, Hollywood and MacArthur Park to patrol streets and arrest violators, Willey said. They’re also useful in controlling crowds, especially at large public events following big wins by the Lakers or the Kings.

“When there’s a major incident, when there’s a major crowd, when there’s a major demonstration within the city, we’re generally going to be involved,” said Rodger Johnson, a platoon officer who has worked with his horse, Ranger, for seven years.

“Because of all the assets the Los Angeles police department has to move a crowd, this is the most effective asset that we have. One horse can do the equivalent of 10 or 15 officers’ work in moving a crowd, because nobody wants to mess with a 1,500-pound horse with a six-foot-one rider on his back,” he said.

The platoon hopes to see support and interest from the Korean American community, Lomencido said.

“We get donations and raise money to buy our horses,” he said. “Without donations from the community that we raise in our trail ride, we could not operate.”

For more information on the trail ride and benefit dinner or to RSVP, call 213-485-5909.