Donations Trickle In To Maintain The City's Mounted Police Unit

August 08, 2009|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,

Fundraising efforts to save the Baltimore Police Department's vaunted horseback unit are off to a slow start, but officials say they have had conversations with potential donors and are optimistic that the unit can be kept intact.

Only $550 in donations have been received in the days since the agency announced that it would need to come up with $200,000 in private money to keep the unit intact for the next year. An official from the Baltimore Community Foundation, which is managing the fundraising efforts for the police, said the donations have mostly come from individuals in chunks of $25 to $50.

Sheryl Goldstein, director of the Mayor's Office on Criminal Justice, said those donations have come via the Internet and that any checks sent via mail likely haven't arrived yet. Meanwhile, Goldstein said a few people have talked to the police commissioner's office about making "sizable" donations, and the Downtown Partnership is soliciting contributions from businesses.

She said at least two people have offered "all the hay and feed we could possibly need."

"I'm confident that we're going to be able to work together to raise the funds needed to support the unit," Goldstein said.

The unit is regarded as one of, if not the oldest, continuously operated police horseback programs in the country, having been formed in 1888. Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III vowed that the unit will not be disbanded during his tenure.

The horses are up to date on veterinarian checkups and have shoes and enough corn, barley and oats to last another 50 to 60 days before the unit's budgeted money runs out.

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