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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Welcoming Texas States’ new officers: Lyndon and Duke

Cara Cervenka
Corporal Haley Mclaren and Duke introducing the Mounted Patrol, Nov. 8, 2023, on the Quad.

Starting in spring 2024, the Texas State Mounted Patrol will be here to saddle up and serve the Texas State community. Lyndon and Duke, the patrol horses, will improve the response time of police units, offering safety and person-ability to Texas State students.

Mounted patrol offers the same assistance as a typical police unit, the patrol allows students to engage with officers as well as the horses. Mounted patrol officers will be patrolling areas in downtown San Marcos and the Texas State campus.

Texas State University is the only campus in the state of Texas to have a Mounted Patrol. Matthew Carmichael, the director and chief of police for the University Police Department (UPD), pitched the idea to President Kelly Damphousse. Carmichael suggested that rather than using the UPD budget on a new patrol cart, mounted patrol would better benefit the campus.

“Historically the police cars can oftentimes be a barrier between police and the communities they serve,” Carmichael said. “Mounted patrol are more approachable from our students but they also stand out. You’ll spot them a mile away.”

Lyndon and Duke are currently training to become official mounted patrol horses in the spring. The training includes being guided by their officers to varying locations around campus. The purpose of training is to get the horses adjusted to the crowds on campus and prepare them for the unpredictable situations they will be faced with.

Captain Daniel Benitez oversees the University Police Department and has been involved with the inclusion of mounted patrol since its development.

“Come on. We’re in Texas,” Benitez said. “[Mounted patrol] makes a more personal experience for the police officers and the students.”

Damphousse appeared at the debut of Lyndon and Duke. Damphousse said that he is excited for students to meet the horses, he believes that the horses produce a unique experience that other colleges lack.

“How many schools have a beautiful campus like this, have a river running through it, and then have a mounted patrol? Nobody,” Damphousse said. “We’ve got the Vaquero Statue up here and we’ve got the Stallions to the side. Horses have always been a really strong part of our history. It’s a way to connect to who we were and who we are today.”

Lyndon and Duke will be cared for at Freeman Ranch, a Texas State facility and research center for agricultural studies. The addition of mounted patrol will create paid jobs for students at Freeman Ranch as well as a new initiative titled “Student Scoopers.” Student Scoopers is a custodial initiative created to combat the waste that the 12,000 pound horses will leave around campus.

Corporal Haley McClaren and Officer Alicia Ortiz will become familiar faces in the spring semester, as they ride through campus on the horses. McClaren is assigned to Duke and Ortiz is assigned to Lyndon. However, the officers are qualified to ride both horses and are experienced riders.

McClaren has been an officer for three and a half years before becoming a part of Texas States Mounted Patrol. McClaren said she believes mounted patrol has positively affected students, even from the few interactions that they have had with the horses.

“We want people to feel like they can come to us with anything. The connection with the horses makes that possible,” McClaren said.

For more information on mounted patrol follow @txst_mpu.

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