Marcia Pepper of Northampton County, PA, whose dressage horse won three CDI freestyles with trainer Lars Peterson in Florida last winter, chose the Bethlehem Mounted Police as the beneficiary of a $10,000 donation from the sponsor.
On July 28, 2015, Mrs. Marcia Pepper and Wellington Equestrian Realty presented the Bethlehem Police Mounted Unit with a very generous donation of $10,000. The presentation to the Friends of the Bethlehem Mounted Police Foundation was made at the Bethlehem Police mounted facility at the Burnside Planation in West Bethlehem, PA.
Mounted police units have proven effective as law enforcement tools, but keeping a mounted unit viable is expensive. The Bethlehem Police Department’s mounted unit is funded by the city, but depends on donations to help make ends meet and keep their horses on duty.
It is through Pepper’s love of horses and her successes with them that she is able to offer this generous donation to the Friends of the Bethlehem Mounted Police Foundation. Pepper, her horse Mariett and Lars Peterson, Mariett’s trainer and rider, are well known competitors in international dressage competition. Based in Wellington, Florida during the recent 2015 competition season, they won three CDI Freestyles at the Winter Equestrian Festival. As the Owner’s Award, sponsor Wellington Equestrian Reality contributed $5,000 to a charity of the winning owner’s choice. Mariett’s three victories resulted in the $10,000 donation to the mounted unit and a $5,000 contribution to Habitat for Horses.
“I think there is only so much you could offer in terms of a prize to an owner. We’ve found that a win/win for everybody would be to make a donation in their name whereas they would feel it was a really great gift and something worthwhile that can go toward a good cause,” Chris Desino of Wellington Equestrian Realty said.
The connection to the Bethlehem Mounted Police Unit comes through Pepper’s husband Richard Pepper, who is an Assistant District Attorney for Northampton County, and longtime acquaintance of Bethlehem Chief of Police Mark A. DiLuzio.
The generous donation will go to the care, feeding and wellbeing of the unit’s three horses; George, Raven and Pharoah. A fourth horse is currently in training to add to the Unit this fall, and DiLuzio would like to see the number of horses continue to grow.
Mounted police were in every city until they were replaced by the automobile, leaving just five mounted police units active in Pennsylvania today. Bethlehem brought their Mounted Unit back in 2009. “They’re actually cheaper than cars,” DiLuzio said. “We have the Burnside Plantation, a 1700 era farm with a huge barn, which was a good start up facility for our horses. They add to our historic Bethlehem downtown and our south side area. The merchants love them downtown and the tourists too. They serve a purpose. They’re highly visible downtown. You can always see a cop on the horse - they stand above the crowd.”
The mounted unit is well suited to Bethlehem’s needs. “We brought them back because of the many festivals we have and all the marathons and half marathons that we run in town and the 5Ks. They’re very good with that and crowd control,” DiLuzio said.
Bethlehem’s horses and their officers work full time. In addition to special events, such as the August Musikfest, they work daily patrols downtown and on the South Side. “They’re anywhere in the city we deploy them. They’re trained to work anywhere in the city environment,” DiLuzio said. “They’re good to open up lines of communication with certain neighborhoods because it’s something brand new plus they can see a lot more. Downtown in the park areas they can get to areas of enforcement where the cruisers can’t or even the motorcycles can’t.”
The mounted officers also are available to assist neighboring departments in cases where their special talents are needed, such as search and rescue operations. In a few weeks, they will travel to Philadelphia to assist during the Pope’s visit to the city.
“We all help each other, the different mounted units. There’s only so many units for police events,” DiLuzio said.
The Friends of the Bethlehem Mounted Unit Foundation helps support the department financially with contributions, plus volunteers assist with caring for the horses on a daily basis.
“We have an entire squad of volunteer citizens who volunteer with the officers to take care of the horses,” DiLuzio explained. “We have a board that manages the funds for it. The city provides a certain amount of money, which is usually not enough, and we have a Foundation that provides the rest of it. The funding comes through private donations, through businesses, and through people in the city that like seeing the horses and the officers out, and like what they do.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the mounted unit, or making a contribution may visit the Web site at bethlehemmpu.wordpress.com or Facebook.