St. Louis Public Radio News
6:46 pm
Mon October 26, 2009

Mounted Police stables may close permanently

St. Louis – A top St. Louis Police Department official is recommending that the department permanently shutter its mounted patrol stables in Forest Park.

The department was forced to move the horses to Chesterfield after testing revealed high levels of lead at the stables. The tests were part of a roof replacement project.

The department does not have enough money to remove the lead and replace the roof, Lt. Col. Alfred Adkins, the commander of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Support told the Board of Police Commissioners Monday. But the city's parks department is willing to build stables for four of the six Mounted Police horses. Two horses will be retired after consultations with the officers, trainers, and veterinarians.

The move will save the department about $577,000, then additional savings each year from utilities, caring for the animals, and salaries. The SLMPD will pay the parks department $50 a month to feed the animals. Three civilian employees - two security guards and a stable attendant - will be transferred to other jobs in the department if possible.

But the same number of officers will patrol Forest Park, Adkins said.

"We're also looking at ATV's or electric vehicles. We're going to ask fleet services and see what's the best we have. We already have one ATV," he said.

The Board of Police Commissioners must approve Adkins's recommendation. Adkins said he hopes construction of the stable can start in December.

The Board on Monday did accept a donation from Lumiere Place casino of a car-mounted camera that can scan license plates and alert officers to cars that have been involved in crimes.

The camera can scan 3,000 to 4,000 license plates in a typical eight-hour shift, said police chief Dan Isom.

"It's a system that many police departments are using now, we hope to purchase more, but I think it will expand our capacity to not only detect crimes but to do further investigation," Isom said.

Lumiere did not put restrictions on where the camera could be used, but a department spokeswoman says the camera will be mounted on a car that patrols the area around the casino.