01/29/2013 08:00 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

LAPD Tractor: New Purchase Helps Police Train Horses

Like any large police department, the LAPD has an array of vehicles in its fleet: helicopters, motorcycles, patrol cars, mobile command trucks, even boats for its dive team.

But a tractor?

There it was on page 3 of Tuesday's Board of Police Commissioners agenda:

"...a monetary donation in the amount of $30,000.00 from Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine, to be used for the purchase of a new tractor..."

Who knew? A crime-fighting tractor!

Indirectly, perhaps. Turns out it's for the department's Mounted Platoon, which has about 30 horses on two acres in Atwater Village, just east of the 5 freeway and Griffith Park.

A tractor is used to turn the topsoil inside the arena where the horses are trained, said Lt. Tony Lomedico, the Mounted Platoon leader.

He said it's important to keep the soil from getting too soft or too hard to protect both the horses and the officers who ride them.

"It gives a good surface no divots, nothing like that," Lomedico said.

The current tractor, a 1990 model, is getting too expensive to fix and maintain. And it seems the Police Department's $1.2 billion budget doesn't account for farm equipment.

So people in the Mounted Platoon went to Zine, a retired LAPD officer who's now a reserve officer and a member of the council's Public Safety Committee.

Jessica Tarman Nassour, Zine's spokeswoman, said the money for the new tractor came from salary savings in the council office. The Police Commission, the LAPD's oversight body, approved the $30,000 donation Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Mounted Platoon has about 30 officers. Lomedico said they mainly do "crime suppression," but mounted officers also help with special events, such as the Rose Parade and the L.A. Kings' Stanley Cup celebration.

Horses are useful because they can go places cars can't, particularly into crowds, and riding high in the saddle gives officers a better view than they would have on foot.

And they attract attention and affection wherever they go. Unlike most officers, horses don't mind when you pet them.

"They're crime-fighters, and they're good PR," Lomedico said.

The platoon website has photos of many horses, including Hondo, Boomer, Doc and Jimbo. Then there's Chief, not to be confused with Chief Charlie Beck. ___