AUSTIN (KYTX)– The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced the official start of its Mounted Horse Patrol Unit (MHPU) during a ceremony today at the Texas State Capitol.
The MHPU will be assigned to the Capitol Complex to enhance security and law enforcement capabilities.
DPS Director Steven McCraw, Texas Public Safety Commission Chair Cynthia Leon and Commissioner Steven Mach, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and Houston Police Department Senior Officer Gregory Sokoloski, among other officials and guests, attended the ceremony.
"Texas' majestic Capitol Complex draws more than one million guests each year, in addition to the thousands of state and civilian workers who report there for work on any given day," said Chair Leon. "This new law enforcement capability throughout the Capitol Complex will prove to be a valuable resource in keeping the public safe."
"In light of the ever-changing threats facing Texas, the Mounted Horse Patrol Unit is a logical extension of the department's security measures to protect the Texas Capitol and the entire population within the Capitol Complex," said Director McCraw. "These expertly trained troopers and horses will enhance the department's ability to provide a safe environment for all who visit and work at the Capitol."
The MHPU currently includes four troopers and three recently acquired horses.
The MHPU primarily will perform high-visibility patrols and provide support as necessary during large events throughout the Capitol Complex.
When called upon, the MHPU may also be deployed to other areas of the state as needed.
Troopers who serve in the MHPU are trained in both urban and rural police techniques, and are also equipped to respond to unique situations, such as tracking suspects hiding in rough terrain or responding to emergency rescue missions.
"The Mounted Horse Patrol Unit positions the Texas Department of Public Safety to be even further prepared and equipped to protect the public in the face of any given circumstance," said Gov. Rick Perry.
"The Texas Legislature and all of Texas rely on the Department of Public Safety to safeguard the Capitol Complex, and I am confident this Mounted Horse Patrol will be an effective measure in achieving that goal," said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
"Whether on foot, or now on horseback, I'd like to thank our DPS officers for their outstanding job protecting all visitors and employees in the Capitol Complex," said Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.
The MHPU joins other special DPS units assigned to the Capitol Complex, including the bike patrol, motorcycle unit and explosive-detection canine teams.