CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston Police are saddling up for the first time in over a decade.

The Charleston Police Department will deploy Mounted Patrol Units at the Cooper River Bridge Run on Saturday. The horses, Watson and Holmes, will spend their first shift near the Gaillard Center.

According to police, the horses will patrol the downtown area four days a week, for at least the next year. Their primary focus will be the Central Business District.

Sgt. William Gritzuk is one of the two officers who will be paired with the animals. He said there are many benefits to patrolling on horseback, like engaging with the community.  

“It’s really an icebreaker for people to come up and pet the horse. Because who doesn’t love a horse? It affords us the opportunity to be highly visible,” said Gritzuk.

The horses’ height also gives police a good view of what’s going on below. The use of Mounted Patrol Units in Charleston dates back to 1978. The practice was discontinued in 2011 because of funding.

For the last two years, CPD has been working with the Charleston Downtown Alliance, Explore Charleston and Palmetto Carriage Works to bring the horses back.

 According to police, they hope to keep the Mounted Patrol Units longer than a year, depending on funding.

They encourage you to come up and pet the horses when you see them.