SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Texas State University is welcoming two new members to its University Police Department: horses named Duke and Lyndon.
In a news release, the university said they’d be the first Texas university with a mounted horse patrol unit as part of their police department.
Cpl. Haley McClaran and Cpl. Aleysha Ortiz were assigned to the unit. Ortiz said this is both her and Lyndon’s first time receiving this training.
“He’s still learning and I’m learning,” she said. “I think that’s our connection that we have right now.”
The university said the plan is to fully implement the horses during the spring 2024 semester.
“Duke and Lyndon will live at Freeman Ranch, a university research facility. UPD will use the rest of the fall semester to train the horses on campus terrain to get accustomed to the university environment,” the university’s release said.
Patrolling high traffic, crime areas
TXST said the times they’ll be patrolling will vary day to day.
University Police Chief Matthew Carmichael said they’ll work a variety of events.
“They’ll be at commencement. They’ll be at football,” Carmichael said. “They’ll be out with our students.”
The university said UPD plans to have a mounted patrol presence during the high traffic hours on campus between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. five days a week.
The release said the horses will train with and maintain crowd control, but that isn’t all they’ll do.
“Their main focus is to be a presence in potential higher crime areas and high traffic areas on campus to provide safety for students, staff, and faculty,” said UPD Captain Daniel Benitez. “We hope the mounted patrol will help deter the crime rate.”
Bridging the gap
Carmichael said another focus is to engage with the community.
“I can stand out here with Duke and Lyndon and talk to a thousand students,” Carmichael said. “I could stand out here by myself in uniform, I’m lucky to get a hello.”
At the end of the day, that’s what McClaran said they’re most excited about.
“Our biggest mission here is to connect that, that gap between all of us. They give us that power to connect,” McClaran said.
TXST student Sheccid Ypatzi agreed that students are more likely to approach an officer when they have a horse with them.
“I feel like we can get a lot of questions answered and we’re able to talk to them about things that concern us, concern faculty or just anyone on campus,” Ypatzi said.
Job opportunities for students
This new addition to campus is creating jobs for students as well.
The chief said students will be able to apply to help out at the barn where Duke and Lyndon will be staying.
He said others can join the “Student Scoopers.”
They’ll go around campus with a shovel, broom and bucket to help clean up any mess the horses might leave behind.