Tulsa's mounted patrol officers will be trading in their saddles for airline seats next week. They're taking a 14-hour flight to Taiwan to help officers there start their own horse patrol unit.
News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright takes a look at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Tulsa's Mounted Patrol officers do it all, handle teenagers who cruise Memorial on weekends who speed, squeal their tires and make illegal u-turns. They patrol shopping centers to help people feel safe going to and from their cars. They even run radar and ticket people who are speeding through neighborhoods where children play.
Now, they're taking 20 years experience of patrolling on horseback to Tulsa's sister city in Taiwan called Kaohsiung. Tulsa Police officer BK Williams: "We'll do some formation riding, show them formations and maybe some sensitivity training with their horses and tell them what they need to look out for when they're out riding around." The Taiwanese government is paying for everything.
Tulsa's officers will join officers from five others US cities and Australia for a week in Taiwan, helping officers understand the pitfalls and advantages of having officers on horseback. "We ride through apartment complexes and neighborhoods and people come up to us and tell us what's going on and they would never do that with an officer in a police car."
The PR benefit of a horse unit was obvious during our interview Wednesday afternoon, when children who'd been playing in a nearby park were drawn to the horses petting them and talking to the officers, clearly at ease. "They get to know police officers are nice guys and hopefully as they get older they can talk to us without having any problems."
The Taiwan horse patrol will have 30 full and part-time officers, used mainly to patrol the city's wharfs. No doubt, they'll be a little better off after learning a few tricks of the trade from half a world away in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The island of Taiwan is off the east coast of China. Our sister city is near the southern tip of the island. Four of the mounted patrol officers will be there from July 4th through the 12th and will present a Tulsa city flag to the Taiwanese officers.