Ike, a long-serving equine member of Raleigh police’s mounted unit, has passed away

Raleigh Police Department

An equine member of the Raleigh Police Department passed away Thursday after serving the city for more than a decade, police announced Friday.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the unexpected passing of Mounted Officer ‘Ike,’” Raleigh police said in a post on Twitter.

Ike, who was 16 as of April and served in the department’s Mounted Unit, suffered a “quick and severe illness” and had to be euthanized by the N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine, police said.

He had served the city for 13 years, according to police.

Raleigh’s mounted unit is the only remaining unit of its kind in North Carolina to still conduct regular, scheduled patrols, according to Walter magazine.

One member of the department’s mounted unit, Officer J.A. Hood, explained how officers need to be fully attuned and devoted to their horse’s needs.

“You’re with that horse all the time,” Hood told the magazine. “On duty, you can’t just take a lunch break. He comes first: his care, his water break, whatever he needs. You have to want to do this job.”

In August 2016, Ike and another horse, Willow, were injured when the police truck taking them back to their stables after their shifts had to swerve to avoid hitting a car that made a sudden turn, ABC11, The News & Observer’s newsgathering partner, reported at the time.

The truck managed to avoid the car in front of it, but the horses’ trailer was flipped on its side, trapping Ike and Willow inside until the trailer could be turned upright.

Both horses were taken to a veterinarian for treatment, and both returned to duty.

Officers riding Ike and the department’s other horses were often seen patrolling the city’s parks and green ways — areas off-limits to police cars.

Seeing officers on horseback and being able to chat with them as they ride by can make officers more visible and approachable, Hood told ABC11 in April.

“When officers are in cars, they’re going to 911 calls and it’s hard for people to interact with them. They’re going to drive right by,” he said. “With us, we move slower in the parks, people say, ‘Hey officer’ and we stop.”