Dalian mounted police should be unsaddled: retired officer

Updated: 2013-05-28 07:39

(China Daily)

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A retired policeman in Dalian has asked the government of the northeastern city to make public the cost of maintaining its mounted policewomen unit, suggesting that authorities disband the division.

Zhao Ming, 64, told China Daily on Monday that "mounted policewomen mainly work to show the good image of the city rather than maintain public order. It is unbecoming for policemen. A performance role should be undertaken by the local tourism administration".

Dalian mounted police should be unsaddled: retired officer

Policewomen on horseback, once regarded as a signature image of Dalian, Liaoning province, recently triggered debate on whether it is worthwhile to spend a lot of money on them. Liu Debin / for China Daily 

A renowned tourist site in Liaoning province, Dalian boasts China's first mounted policewoman unit, which has been an attraction since its establishment in 1994.

The policewomen on horseback patrol Renmin Square in front of the city government's office building and Xinghai Square, one of the city's most attractive scenic spots.

They also stand guard for important conferences and expos in Dalian.

Zhao agrees that these policewomen play some role in upgrading the city's image. But he said it is not proper for them to remain in the police force.

"The grassroots units are lacking money and people," said Zhao, who had worked as a traffic policeman in the city's Wafangdian area for more than 30 years before his retirement.

In his view, it would be better for mounted policemen to use a bicycle or a motorcycle rather than a horse.

Costs are also high, Zhao said - some horses were imported, and even though some were donated to the unit, the cost of keeping them is expensive, he said.

"How much have the taxpayers paid for the horses?" he asked. After failing to get information, Zhao appealed to the government to make it public.

An official from the Dalian government confirmed that Zhao's suggestion was sent to the mayor's office on Monday morning.

An officer from the Dalian Public Security Bureau, who declined to be named, said the bureau had emphasized the issue and he was not at liberty to make comments.

Previous media reports said the horses were retired racehorses donated by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

"The market price of a retired racehorse is about 30,000 to 40,000 yuan ($4,900-$6,530), and their annual maintenance cost is no more than 10,000 yuan," said Liu Feng, general manager of the Shenyang Lulang Jockey Club.

Wang Xiuwen, 59, a local resident, said she did not agree with disbanding the mounted unit.

"They are a beautiful sight. Many tourists like taking pictures with the policewomen. It brings invisible earnings to the city," she said.

But a netizen wrote on tieba.baidu.com that if the mounted policewomen are regarded as a tourist attraction, they should be under the administration of the tourism bureau instead of the public security bureau.

"No police officer should be seen merely as decoration," the netizen wrote.

When the policewomen made their first public appearance at the 8th Dalian International Fashion Festival in September 1996, they were greeted with cheers.

"I also applauded at first. But when several other cities took the example of Dalian, I started to think about it," said Zhao, who wrote an article in 2005 saying that the trend had gone too far.

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