How Chicago's Mounted Patrol Takes on Rowdy Crowds

In the early morning hours of June 25th, Chicago roared.

The Blackhawks had won The Stanley Cup. From bars all over the city, happy fans poured out into the streets, many of which had been celebrating far too much.

In Wrigleyville, Lieutenant Paul Bauer and officers of the Chicago Police Mounted Unit were tasked with the job of trying to get the crowd to disperse.

But not the whole crowd all at once. They were moved in stages.

“We just take layers of a crowd and begin to move them away from the area,” Bauer said as he watched the video of what transpired that night. Police on horseback tried to separate the crowd into blocks of 50. “And tell them its time to go,” Bauer said. “The night’s over.”

Rider and horse went step by step in tandem with others under saddle, establishing a clear line of demarcation.

“The line is what we call a skirmish line,” he said. “So everything behind us is clear and the celebrants are in front of us.”

It’s a tactic the Mounted Patrol, with their 30 head of horses, regularly train at their South Shore stable, where they prepare for any situation--large crowds, noise, unruly people.

And on the night of the Blackhawks win, there was a lot to deal with.

NBC5’s Phil Rogers was reporting that night in Wrigleyville and said police---and horse were facing a mob of happy fans.

“People that were throwing things at them, that were jeering them, taunting them,” Rogers remembers. “People were throwing full bottles of beer at the officers and the horses.”

“The hardest thing we do in our training is the rider can’t react,” Bauer said, “You are trying to transmit to that horse, its not big deal.” Adding, “as a rider you have to be very calm.”

One of the great assets of being on horseback, Bauer says, is literally being above the crowd.

“A line of policemen on foot trying to move a crowd, somebody ten persons in back of the crowd wonders why is this person pushing on me,” he said. “And they maybe even try to push back.”

On horseback, police are more visible and people on the street understand better what is happening.

“It was a long night,” Bauer said. But a successful one he said for Chicago’s officers on horseback.

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