MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Police Department broke ground Tuesday, April 30 on a new facility -- and the building will be shared with the public.
Located on the city’s south side, MKE Urban Stables is the first facility in the nation to combine mounted patrol, equine-assisted therapy and community engagement programs.
"The horses are going to be that middle ground to help us break that barrier," said Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales.
The 27,000 square-foot facility will house up to 24 horses, half of which will be from the Milwaukee Police Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit. The rest will be part of a number of equine-assisted therapy programs.
MPD's Mounted Patrol Unit works to control crowds and engage with the community.
"The City of Milwaukee is a city of festivals, so we use the horses for events like that all through the summer," said Chief Morales.
Currently, the horses live 20 minutes away from the city. The distance limits how often the horses can be used.
"The officers themselves suggested it to the business community several years ago, that if they can have a permanent home, we have to build it big enough for therapy horses as well," said Kent Lovern, MKE Urban Stables Board president and Chief Deputy District Attorney for Milwaukee County.
Around 80 percent of the $5.5 million raised for the project came from private donations.
"It really shows the police department that the City of Milwaukee cares about its department, and there's people that are going to go out there and do things to help us," said Chief Morales.
The goal is to have the building complete by early 2020.