A Letter from Charlie

20 December 2019 by Todd Umstead

A farewell letter from the mind of our very own retiring LCPD police horse Charlie.

Dear Neighbors,
This morning was like most mornings – up at 4 am to greet the nice woman who comes to feed me and clean our stalls every day, 365 days of the year. I’m the youngest of the four of us in the mounted patrol for the Lancaster Bureau of Police, but my joints ache on this cold November morning. The ringleader Duke is up feeding on his side of the trough; Liam, Ozzie and I gather on the other side and fuel up for another day of patrol. My arthritis has grown worse over the last year, and I just hope today gives me another opportunity to be the vehicle for Officer Berry to keep an eye on Lancaster streets from high above.
Today there are no special events downtown, or any holiday. But while we horses are not always seen, we are at work every day. Being the youngest, I like the night shift so I spend the day resting up to greet Officer Berry around 2 pm when he arrives to groom me, give me a much needed shower and get me geared up for evening patrol. I stay on the streets with him until well after most city residents are in bed.
Earlier this week as we were patrolling, we saw Officer Reppert and K-9 officer Stryker drive by, probably answering a burglary call. Stryker, being a more agile and petite mammal than myself, has the ability to enter homes and businesses ahead of our human counterparts to determine if there’s a threat, and to diffuse that threat with his thundering bark – and any other means necessary. Our K-9 officers are often the front line when it comes to entering an unknown situation, and they’ve protected our human officers more times than I can count on four hooves! Stryker is a critical member of the team and it’s my understanding that the residents of Lancaster we keep
Officer Berry and I greet safe, are the ones supporting our upkeep – and we thank you! We would
not be here without the Lancaster City Police Foundation and your generous each other at the barn bedonations. fore an evening patrol shift.
At just four years old, Stryker is also a young pup when it comes to canine officers. He and I are the rookies in our respective squads, which is why the news I’m about to share may come as a surprise to you all.
Both Stryker and I have turned in our retirement notices.
Like a patrol car with a bad transmission and too many miles, my arthritis is beginning to affect the way I can perform my job. I can’t stay out on patrol as long as I used to, which inhibits Officer Berry from performing his duties. I try to be stoic and suck it up, but the truth is I would never want to be responsible for putting Officer Berry or any other officer in danger because I couldn’t perform; they’re my brothers.
Stryker is having the same struggle as me . . . after lots of tests, it was determined he has a genetic condition that will no longer allow him to perform as a K-9 officer. Officer Reppert, in solidarity with Stryker, has decided to also remove himself from the K-9 unit so he can continue to provide Stryker with a home, without another K-9 officer moving in.
Now the Lancaster City Police are left with three vacant officer positions: one K-9, one mounted and one K-9 handler. These are big shoes to fill – horse shoes, even! – and the costs associated with them are outside the budget. Lancaster, we need your help to fill the gap in funding so we can continue to provide the same lev-el of excellent police service you’ve come to expect from our two- and four-legged officers.
K-9 Officer Styker (right) and his civilian brother Diesel (left), discuss K-9 Officer Stryker’s retirement. Your support for the Lancaster City Police Foundation will not just provide food, shelter and care for the new horse in town, nor will it only provide chew toys and tennis balls for our K-9 officers’ down time. Your support equates to a safer Lancaster – for all of us.
Our current needs include . . .
• Cameras . . . we need a new exterior camera system at the station downtown. Did you know I once was horse-napped? Yes – it happened! That was one of my more memorable days on the job, but I love people and a new friend took me off my hitch and walked me down the street. Luckily I didn’t get too far before my partner found me, but had I been a little smaller and not so obvious to find, a camera would have made it much easier to identify and find my abductor!
• Training . . . Intense classroom training for select officers that will result in educational aspects outside of patrol and traditional police work. Included in this training is grant writing instruction so we may continue to find other sources of revenue to add to your generous donations for a collective impact.
• K-9 Training . . . I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw my K-9 brothers a bone! With the changing landscape when it comes to explosives and homemade weapons, our K-9 unit continually trains to stay up to date on keeping Lancaster safe from explosives. In addition, Stryker enjoyed lots of time spent in schools ensuring they were clear of drugs. I can smell a carrot from a mile away, but I’ll hand it to the K-9 unit – the power they have in their tiny wet noses does more for the residents of Lancaster than most people realize. Continued training makes it possible, and your support makes the training happen.
I want to be very clear – which is sometimes hard as a horse – every grant supported by the Lancaster Police Foundation is made with thorough thought and with the mission in mind to keep Lancaster safe. Lancaster is the thousands of people I watch celebrating on a First Friday. Lancaster is the children I’ve met nose-tonose when we are in the schools providing educational outreach, teaching them that officers are here to help them. And Lancaster is sometimes the mob of people celebrating a bachelor party that Stryker has to break up before any incidents can happen.
Officer Reppert and K-9 Officer Stryker during a public education session at a local school.
We are here to prevent crime, not react to crime. Our goal is to support initiatives that do just that – and we cannot do that without you. So in my last duty as an officer before my retirement, I am asking you to be proactive and send in whatever support you are able, so my future replacement can serve you well. With the right systems in place, all our officers can perform their jobs and keep you, your family and your home safe this holiday season and all year round.
I’m hanging up my uniform for the last time and am hoping I can rest easy knowing the city I called home for more than a decade will provide the financial means to welcome a new kid on the block for the coming decades, and keep him and our fellow officers safe. Will you consider a donation in honor of my retirement, and my good friend Stryker’s retirement, today?
Yours in service, and soon to be your retired neigh-bor,
P.S. K-9 Officer Stryker here—Charlie and I are grateful for your donations and support during our career with the Lancaster City Bureau of Police. Every gift, no matter the size, plays a critical role in the success of our units! Our unrestricted fund allows the Lancaster City Police Foundation to commit resources to where they are needed most at any given time. Won’t you please make a
donation today? You can even donate online at LancasterPoliceFoundation.org
Even we like a good selfie! Visit our facebook page, Lancaster City Police Mounted and K-9 Units, and share your favorite selfie with your four-legged friend!
The official registration and financial information of the Lancaster City Police Foundation may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free, within Pennsylvania, (800) 732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.