On two days a week – usually Fridays and Saturdays – if you are lucky, you may see something that disappeared from the Coral Gables Police Department in the 1920s: The city’s mounted patrol. The horse, a retired thoroughbred racehorse named Rockaway, is on patrol duty those days, usually in quieter residential areas, but sometimes downtown.
“We generally work until nine at night,” says Officer Ashley Sheran, a long-time horse rider who adopted Rockaway in 2015, around the time she became a dispatcher for the Coral Gables PD. After being sworn in as a patrol officer in 2018, she approached Chief Ed Hudak and pitched him on the idea of establishing a horse patrol.
A year later the program began, with Sheran and Rockaway appearing at special functions as on patrol. “He loves to work. That’s what these thoroughbreds were bred for,” says Sheran. “We go everywhere – even on Giralda and Galiano – though we might spend more time along the [Granada] golf course.” That is one place where Rockaway keeps his trailer, which is how he travels from his horse stable in SW Ranches.
While Officer Sheran (who rides patrol cars during her other shifts) is ready to go into crime fighting action with Rockaway if needed, much of the horse’s contribution is community engagement. “People will come to see the horse, and then have a conversation with the officer,” says CGPD Public Information Officer Kelly Denham. “It’s always a positive.” Rockaway also has regular fans. “He has learned that at 77 Sportbar [on Giralda Plaza], the owner comes out and gives him carrots. He likes to head that way every evening.”