St. Petersburg police patrolled the Pinellas Trail on horseback Thursday – a first for the agency.
ABC Action News was there for the first patrol.
Officer Julie Bryan sat atop Jacob, a 1,400-pound Percheron thoroughbred.
"We can see higher than on a bicycle, people on their feet. In the cruisers, obviously you are limited to about a three foot height," she said.
She was visible from the trail, too.
Curtis King's children noticed the horses right away. He's glad police took the step to raise their awareness. There are parts of the Pinellas Trail where he worried about the safety of his family after recent robberies.
"Feels like the trail is closing on you for just a little bit and then it opens up. When I saw these guys I said, ‘Wow, that is a good feeling,’" he said.
That's the response police wanted. The horses represent one aspect of trail safety. Farther north, Clearwater police started this week using bike patrols in their sections.
By Oct. 18, security cameras will also be installed along the trail in St Petersburg.
Officer Mitch Ditty will help the mounted police by patrolling the area from the ground.
"We want everyone to feel that it is safe and that they are able to utilize it," he said.
"It certainly makes things, you know, feeling that much more secure out here now,” King said.
The patrols will have a random schedule, but will take place on the Pinellas Trail each shift.