Horse Patrol Gallops Into Downtown PC

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Police officers typically fight crime with a patrol car or a gun, but what about a horse?

Officer Keely Bass and her mare "Bunny" are now permanent fixtures in downtown Panama City, patrolling the area from six feet up.

"They needed more police visibility downtown with the transient situation. Business owners wanted some police presence. We started foot patrol, but our commander asked about horse patrol and I said that's a whole lot better than walking," says Officer Keely Bass.

Local business owners not only feel safer, but say Bunny has also brought the downtown community together.

"Just to see someone patrolling the streets that's not in a car. We can come out and feed her. I think it's great," says Brenda Joyner, a Smith Barney employee.

Panama City commissioners agree horse patrol is great as long as it doesn't cost them. Back in January, commissioners allowed Officer Bass to use Bunny in crowd control situations, but wouldn't fund the program. Now, the Police Department is looking for private donation to keep their one-woman horse patrol unit intact.

Officer Bass says it's worth the extra help.

"I think they've had a lot less trouble with things going on downtown and I'm getting to know all the transients on a first name basis, knowing which ones need to be down and which ones don't," says Officer Bass.

Downtown businessman Wes Pitman has donated money to buy equipment and transport Bunny every day, but Officer Bass says they need more help to continue patrolling the downtown area.

If you'd like to donate money you can contact the Equestrian Unit at the Panama City Police Department at 872-3100.