That familiar Philadelphia tradition, the police horse, might be back on city streets if a nonprofit organization that supports law enforcement can raise enough money to get the steeds galloping again.
The Philadelphia Police Foundation today planned to launch a $1.2 million fundraising campaign to bring back the mounted unit.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who had a mounted unit while he was police chief of Washington, D.C., has wanted to restore Philadelphia's since he took over here in 2008.
But the cash-strapped city cannot afford such a move on its own.
The mounted unit was disbanded in 2004 by former Mayor John Street as a cost-cutting measure, and its officers were deployed to other units.
"There is no question that a mounted unit will play a crucial role in protecting the people of Philadelphia," Ramsey said in a statement released by the police foundation.
At ceremonies today, Comcast was to announce a $20,000 donation and 7-Eleven another $10,000 to help kick off the campaign, and state Sen. Larry Farnese was to announce a $100,000 contribution from the state.
Police horses are often used for crowd control, but police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers said Ramsey was most interested in using them for "community policing."
"They're a great way to communicate with the public," said Evers, who said the number of horses that might be used by the unit was "in the 20 range."
Evers said the horses are also useful in places like Fairmount Park.
State Police horses were used during the Phillies' 2008 World Series celebration, he added.
The mounted unit previously was disbanded in 1952, but the Fairmount Park Guard, then a separate force, kept its horses. Mayor Frank Rizzo united the two departments in 1972 to restore the mounted unit.