While the mounted police unit is a fixture on the urban streets of Toronto, due to COVID-19 cutbacks the city of Kingston, in eastern Ontario, is at risk of losing its mounted unit and locals have started a fundraiser to ensure that doesn’t happen.
On the Kingston police website for the fundraiser there is a photo of Murney, an 11-year-old mare who patrols with rider/police officer Constable Sarah Groenewegen. The duo are seen by Kingston residents as “valued and unique members of the Kingston Police Service and community.” The city has had a mounted unit since 1998 and like its counterparts in other cities, the sight of a horse patrolling the city brings joy to many while serving a vital purpose. In fact, Groenewegen and Murney have just been nominated for a 2021 Police Hero Award for being On-Duty Difference Makers in the Kingston community.
In an interview with CTV News , Constable Groenewegen explained that she and Murney focus on community outreach and safety measures.
“We can do the parks, we’re downtown, we’re doing school visits, when COVID wasn’t that bad we were doing community events,” says Groenewegen.
Bev Allinson, co-owner of the Confederation Place Hotel, who is on the board of directors with the Downtown Kingston! BIA (Business Improvement Area), says the group immediately made plans to see Murney’s work continue once they learned that the mounted unit was under budget cuts.
“Kingston citizens love to come up to her and talk to her and pet her and that sort of thing. She brings joy into their life,” Allinson told CTV. “We had to jump on our horse, so to speak, and start fundraising to keep Murney on the streets for the summer.”
And as an added bonus to Murney’s important role in public safety, Groenewegen also explains that the mare “brings more than just a smile to residents”: the horse also forges a closer bond between the police and citizens.
“The community is very engaged when they see Murney,” Groenewegen added. “They come up to you, they approach you, but as a result you start talking to them and building a rapport with them.”
The goal is $75,000 and so far the efforts have raised just over $20,000. The fundraiser is ongoing for the rest of the year; if you wish to help, donations can be made to the City of Kingston – Murney on Patrol fund by:
Canada Helps https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/59007
Or by e-transfer using the email address: KPHorse@CityofKingston.ca