SAN JOSE (KCBS) – A nonprofit that helps fund the San Jose Police Department’s mounted unit announced Thursday that it would stop its fundraising efforts to support police horses.
The Friends of the San Jose Mounted Unit will return tens of thousands of dollars received since December to the donors because city officials said equestrian officers will be eliminated regardless of how much private money is raised to save the program.
“That’s just setting us up for failure, and I think deliberately,” said Denelle Fedor, president of the organization.
More than 100 San Jose police officers will lose their jobs at the end of June, making the horses a luxury Scott Knees with the San Jose Downtown Association said the police department can no longer afford.
“We love the horses. They’re a good PR tool. They’re effective maybe during the special events the most. But we’d rather have the officers than the horses,” Knees said.
KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:
The unit has relied on private money to supplement its budget for several years, a situation Knees said led to uncertain, piecemeal funding.
Other big cities such as Austin and New York have managed to hold onto their mounted units, and Philadelphia is trying to reinstate its mounted unit, according to Fedor.
She said keeping just two horses would be enough to preserve a 25-year program that would be difficult to restart once cut.
“Just keep what we have because if we eliminate it, we’ll never have it again in San Jose. It’ll take years and years to rebuild,” Fedor said.
The San Jose Police Department would not comment on the nonprofit’s decision and referred journalists to the city manager’s office.
Staff at the city manager’s office said it is premature to assume the mounted unit would be eliminated. They hope to meet with the Friends to clarify any misunderstanding.
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