The seat of state government in Texas now has its own dedicated mounted patrol unit.
The Texas Department of Public Safety officially launched its mounted horse patrol at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Tuesday.
The unit will be assigned to the Capitol Complex to enhance security and law enforcement capabilities.
The state’s Capitol Complex draws more than one million guests each year, in addition to the thousands of state and civilian workers who report there for work each day.
Texas Public Safety Commission chairwoman Cynthia Leon said at the official launch: “This new law enforcement capability throughout the Capitol Complex will prove to be a valuable resource in keeping the public safe.”
The director of the Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw, said: “In light of the ever-changing threats facing Texas, the mounted horse patrol unit is a logical extension of the department’s security measures to protect the Texas Capitol and the entire population within the Capitol Complex.
“These expertly trained troopers and horses will enhance the department’s ability to provide a safe environment for all who visit and work at the Capitol.”
The mounted unit has launched with four troopers and three recently acquired horses.
Its primary purpose will be to perform high-visibility patrols and provide support as necessary during large events throughout the Capitol Complex.
When called upon, the unit may also be deployed to other areas of the state as needed.
Troopers who serve in the unit are trained in both urban and rural police techniques, and are also equipped to respond to unique situations, such as tracking suspects hiding in rough terrain or responding to emergency rescue missions.
Texas Governor Rick Perry said: “The mounted horse patrol unit positions the Texas Department of Public Safety to be even further prepared and equipped to protect the public in the face of any given circumstances.
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst added: “The Texas Legislature and all of Texas rely on the Department of Public Safety to safeguard the Capitol Complex, and I am confident this mounted horse patrol will be an effective measure in achieving that goal.”
The new unit also received words of support from Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. “Whether on foot, or now on horseback, I’d like to thank our DPS officers for their outstanding job protecting all visitors and employees in the Capitol Complex.”
Other special Department of Public Safety units assigned to the Capitol Complex include the bike patrol, motorcycle unit and explosive-detection canine teams.