A four-legged trainee, named after a frozen drink, has joined the Baltimore Police Force this week. (Brittany Britto / Baltimore Sun)
A four-legged trainee with a refreshing name joined the Baltimore Police Force this week.
Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, and employees of 7-Eleven welcomed Slurpee, a chocolate draft horse that the convenience store franchise named and donated to the city's mounted police force, on Wednesday morning in front of the 7-Eleven at 55 Market Place.
The 4-year-old horse, which has been training for the past several months, will stand in for a horse — also named Slurpee — that 7-Eleven funded the Baltimore police years ago, according to Sgt. Russ Robar.
"I'm excited to meet our new Slurpee, and I'm sure that our 17-year-old Slurpee is getting his well-deserved rest," said Pugh, who gave the new Slurpee 2.0 a few pets on his muzzle.
"Slurpee Sr.," as Pugh called him, served for nearly 10 years starting in 2006 and retired to the hills of Pennsylvania earlier this year, Robar said.
"7-Eleven wanted to do something else, and this is what we needed. This is perfect timing," Robar said of Slurpee 2.0.
The Baltimore Police, which has one of the oldest mounted units in the country, will use Slurpee and his horse counterparts as a way to boost the police force and its community relations, Robar said.
Robar cited a 2014 RAND Europe study found that neighborhood patrols mounted by police in the United Kingdom were associated with "comparatively higher levels of public trust and confidence than patrols by police on foot." The study's results showed that in one shift on average, individual police officers mounted on a horse were able to engage just over 330 citizens, while officers on foot only engaged an average of 50 people per shift.
"We find that to be absolutely true. I mean, they are just a magnet and it allows us to really bridge that gap with the community and just interact," Robar said.
7-Eleven, which has 78 locations throughout the city, also made a $6,000 donation to the Baltimore Community Fund, which will aid three police programs — including their "bridge" program, which works to foster relationships between police, business and the community, and the "explorers" program, which is geared toward engaging city youth leaders and turning them into officers.
"This is what Baltimore is about," Pugh said of the partnership.
Davis also offered his words of appreciation for 7-Eleven and even reminisced about the times he and his brother bent the rules when it came to their signature frozen drinks.
"We'd fill [the cup] up, and we'd suck it down as quickly as possible before we filled it again and had to pay for it. I apologize. We did that for a long, long time," he said, to laughs in the crowd, later calling it a "technical violation."