Kurt McRobert

When Portland City Council adopted its budget for next fiscal year on June 8, the final funerary knell tolled for the Portland Police Bureau's Mounted Patrol Unit.

After years of putting the city's horse cops up on the chopping block in budget proposals—often comfortable in the notion that actually slashing it would be unpopular—the PPB finally was taken up on its offer by Mayor Ted Wheeler, who's also the police commissioner. But that didn't stop the police bureau from a last-ditch effort to keep the unit around.

According to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, the PPB asked Sheriff Mike Reese to take over the unit once its fate in the city budget had become clear.

And Reese, a former police chief who saw the MPU's existence threatened, then saved, again and again during his watch, really considered it.

"Sheriff Reese was approached by the police bureau regarding the option for MCSO to take over the MPU," says MCSO spokesperson Lt. Chad Gaidos. "However, after consideration it is not a viable for the Sheriff’s Office at this time."

The discussions over the potential swap were apparently kept close. Representatives for Wheeler and County Chair Deborah Kafoury (who has sway in the sheriff's budget) weren't aware the matter had been considered.

But Portland developer Bob Ball, a police reserve commander who for years has fought for the horse unit's existence with the group Friends of the Mounted Patrol, was in on the conversation.

"We actually did discuss it, but they just didn’t think it would be feasible," Ball says. "They just couldn't do it, especially because the time frame was so quick to put it together."

Come July 1, the beginning of the city's next fiscal year, funding for the MPU will officially be nixed. Ball says homes are being found for the unit's eight horses.