The Mounted District Station was built 1893 and police operations began August 1, 1893. At the time of opening in 1893, the station was said to be the finest in Saint Louis and said to be the best in the country. The building covers a surface of 189x98 feet and has an assembly and drill hall 63x48 feet. At one end of the drill hall is a space set apart for the Captains’ and Sergeants’ rooms, 35x27 feet, and adjoining is the cell room, 35x21 feet, the cells being each 10x12. In the drill room the probationary patrolmen are drilled for one and a half hours every eighth day. The manual of arms is taught, a stand of fifty rifles being stored there for the purpose. Every man has his own private locker, the sanitary and plumbing arrangements are of the best and everything is scrupulously neat and clean. The entire building has steam heat. The danger from fire is reduced to a minimum, but yet the station has its own fire department, having two reels of hose conveniently hung, which will reach any part of the building. Forty acres of land are set apart for the station and stables, most of which is used for pasturage.
On the ground floor are the police stables presided over by Dr. Wm. R. Fanlkner, Superintendent, who buys all the horses. The stable is a wonder. There is no more suspicion of a bad odor about it, although eighty-five horses are kept there, than one would expect to find it the dining-room or parlor of a gentleman. The floor is of asphalt, except the floors of the stalls, which is of yellow clay. On that horses can stand with perfect ease to their feet, and there is none of that pawing and other symptoms of uneasiness so frequently visible in stables less complete. The horses are bedded with a thick layer of shavings, and no dirt is permitted to accumulate for a single hour. The Superintendent’s office is on the same floor and a close watch is kept to see that the men do their duty. Any one who has the care of or who owns horses could get valuable pointers by a visit to the police stables at Forest Park. There are seventy-two single stalls, 5x7 feet in the clear, and 12 box stalls, 12 feet square.
In 1896 the Saint Louis Mounted Police had forty-five mounted policemen. They were divided into three patrols of fifteen each, only one patrol being being on duty at a time. There was seventeen beats. Some of the beats were five square miles. The mounted police covered the whole territory west of Grand, south of Manchester and west of Euclid, north of Clayton road. The extreme north and south limits were seventeen miles apart. Some of the territory of the mounted district is covered by the mounted patrolary patrolmen on foot. The area embraces thirty-five square miles with a population of 55,000. The territory embraces Calvary and Bellefonatine and all other large cemeteries and also coveres Forest Park, Tower Grove Park, O’Fallon Park and Carondelet Park.
The common ordinary downtown cop may envy his mounted brother and imagine that with a horse to ride, and one third less hours of duty life is to him a continued picnic. When the mounted policeman is on dress parade on a fine day in the front ranks of the Veiled Prophet's or King Hotu’s retinue, with prancing steed and flashing sabre, he looks “out of sight,” But the picture is different when the mounted policeman is covered with mud from head to foot, wading knee deep in a slough of despond with his horse not “dead but gone before.”
The “copper” when he is first promoted to the “horse brigade” does not think his job half so easy the second day as he does the first, and the third day he wishes the animal had never been introduced as a means of transportation. The mounted policeman gets no breaking in, save by experience. There are men on the force who never mounted a horse in their lives until the day they started in as a mounted policeman. They had to be instructed how to place the saddle and how to buckle it on, and they were in doubt whether the bit went in the mouth, or under the tail. The raw recruits are more raw in places after after two or three days experience than they were at first. About the third day they report sick, and lay off for a rest. But they do not rest sitting down. They eat from the mantelpiece and walk very painfully. They suffer just as the school boy does after an old-fashioned spanking.
All the raw recruits undergo this painful ordeal, but they soon get over it. But there are other troubles which beset the most experienced. There are times when in chasing an evil-doer a horse is a handicap instead of a help. A man may go through wire fences, climb railings, and penetrate narrow paths beset with trees and undergrowth where a horse cannot go. Then the policeman has to abandon his horse. He cannot afford to lose time looking for a place to hitch so he leaves the horse free. The horse is well trained and will remain a reasonable length of time. If his rider does not return within the limit set by the horse, the latter makes a bee line for the stable, leaving the luckless rider to follow on foot. Imagine the joy of a walk of a few miles on a dark night in such bottomless mud as country roads are revelling in at this season. This is an experience which the mounted policeman regularly has in all season. It is really better to leave the horse free, because if an animal comes in alone, and the rider does not soon follow or report from the nearest call-box, it will be known that some accident has befallen him, and help will be sent. Otherwise if he hitched his horse anywhere off an open rode, and was wounded or killed after dismounting, nothing would be known of it before daylight.
When the mounted policeman makes an arrest he handcuffs his prisoner and either makes him walk in front, while his captor rides, or, if he proves unruly or tries to escape, the policeman may have to dismount and hold the prisoner, while he leads the horse. Sometimes he is not equal to this double task and he has to turn the horse loose. The horse will invariabley return without delay to the stable. If the arrest is made in reach of a car line, the policeman leaves his horse at some convenient place and takes his prisoner on the cars, returning for his horse afterward. Except in the territory due west of the station and north of Baden the ground is fairly well covered by the street car system, although it may necessitate a walk of a mile or two over boggy roads to get to a car.
The mounted policeman has other troubles of his own besides mud and bad walking. Severely cold weather is very much harder on any one mounted than afoot. It is especially difficult to keep the feet warm and old Boreas blows his blasts with cruel glee through the whiskers and about the ears of a man on horseback. In a driving rain, in sleet, snow and wind the mounted copper has not the sheltering walls of high buildings to protect him, and then in the open country where his beat is the temperature in winter is always several degrees colder than in the city. The only compensation is that, being mounted, he can, and does, wear heavier clothing than a man on foot can conveniently carry around. In extremely hot weather, too, there is no shady side of the street for the mounted policeman. He has to take old Sol straight and the exercise of riding is more beating than walking at the pace of the ordinary policeman.
But take the spring and fall, when it is neither too hot nor too cold, and when the roads are in good condition, and the mounted policeman has decidedly the bulge over his unmounted brother. The mounted policeman has a long beat to ride, and on most beats in all weathers he has to go it alone, as there are not enough men to double up, but ordinarily, in his sparsely settled territory arrests are few and far between and the officer in decent weather has a nice, pleasant job.
Then, too, he works fewer hours, which is a decided boon at all seasons. The downtown policeman with a twelve-hours’ watch and generally court to attend in the morning, is on duty most of the time he is not eating or sleeping. It is conceded that it is too great a strain on the men and better results could be obtained by three patrols of eight hours. The Mounted District is conducted on the eight-hours’s system. In fact, the morning watch is only seven hours, because for lack of early street car facilities it is impracticable to have the men report for duty as early as 6 o’clock. As the watches are changed monthly, however, the men preserve an average of eight hours, the night men taking the extra hour of duty of the day men. The first watch is from 7 a.m. till 2 p.m.; the second from 2 p.m. till 10 p.m.; the third from 10 p.m. till 7 a.m.
The men assemble for roll call at the hour for going on duty. All they have to do is to saddle their horses. The animals are cleaned and fed by the hostlers, of whom there is a day and night gang. The policemen line up, mounted, in front of the station, and leave in a body at the word of command. On returning from duty all they have do do is to clean their saddle kits and make out their reports to their respective Sergeants. The Sergeant makes out reports to be forwarded to Chief Harrigan. Then the men are off duty for sixteen hours unless they have a case in court.
The equipment of a mounted soldier is a navy revolver, carried in a holster furnished by the department, and a small baton, which as replaced the full-sized club formerly carried, a pair of hand-cuffs, and an extra round of cartridges, which, with the handcuffs, are carried in the saddle kit. Each man has a saber and scabbard. He is drilled in the use of this weapon, but never carries it except when on dress parade at the head of a street procession, or on similar occasions. The rest of the time they are kept locked up in a glass case in the station-house assembly room.
The men when on duty are required to report by telephone every hour. This is arranged so that half the men report at the hour, and the others at the half-hour, so that some officer is heard from every half hour, In so large a territory this is necessary. The station has no patrol wagon, as the distances are too great and the roads too bad to render them available. If an officer calls for help the only help that can reach is to send the next available man who reports. Sometimes the next man to call up may be ten miles away, so that when a mounted policeman calls for assistance he is in luck if the trouble is not over long before he reaches him. There were formerly seventy-two mounted policemen, but in the late “shake up” the force was reduced to forty-five. But these are supplemented by twenty-two probationists, foot policemen who are stationed in the more thickly populated beats. There are two two sub-stations in the district, the Tower Grove Station on Manchester Road and the station in O’Fallon Park. The officers consist of Capt, Peter Reynolds, Office Sergeants Lally and Gaffney, Mounted Sergeants Kennedy, Dowd and Boland, and Patrol Sergeant Creecy, stationed at Tower Grove.