For those of you who are not familiar with the fetid armpit that is the state of New Jersey, drivers here tend to adhere to Azubuike Igbo’s Rules For Third World Driving, stopping only if human appendages have sufficiently wedged themselves far enough into the transaxle to prevent a smooth ride. According to the Star Tribune, parks are no exception, and to combat this frightening trend, the Morris County Park Police have begun placing horse-mounted patrol officers in park areas known for high volumes of traffic. Said one mounted patrol officer, “Drivers just don’t expect police to be here, on these roads…once they get off the main roads, they think it’s free and clear for driving. But we’re watching.”
While officers admit the horses do provide a certain intimidation factor, their goal is not to “hammer anyone with a ticket unless they’re going really fast…We just want them to slow down.” Morris County is among only a handful of departments in the state who outfit their horseback officers with handheld radar units, and is only 1 of 2 counties with any park patrol unit at all. The second park patrol unit is located in Camden County and polices parks in the South Jersey region. Unfortunately, the Camden County park patrol must be severely understaffed because recently, park patrons have been subject to repeated harassment from the most incredibly disrespectful, insubordinate, loitering – and apparently unsupervised – teenagers. Obviously, passive tactics like watchfully idling in police cruisers are not cutting it, so we’d like to casually suggest that Camden County investigate the possible benefits of employing the use of high-caliber sniper rifles to enforce the peace…
But we digress.
Morris County’s horseback campaign has been met with success, thanks in part to both unaggressive patrons [unlike Camden County] and friendly, laid back officers. Typically preferring to give speeders written warnings, park officers say they’ll generally only issue a major citation if a driver is speeding excessively [according to the article, a man on a crotch rocket was clocked doing 68mph through the park…that one was probably citable]. Explained county park commissioner David Helmer, “The idea is to slow traffic down. You are inside a park. People are walking and running, riding bikes and horses. You want them to be safe…And isn’t it better to slow them down with patrols on horses rather than…idling in a car and using up gas?”