Mounted Finds Missing Man

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair

Writer/Photographer

14 Division
Mounted

A joint effort by Toronto Police Service’s 14 Division Primary Response Unit officers and Mounted Unit members helped locate an elderly missing person suffering from dementia.

On Saturday, February 3 at around 11:45 a.m., the man’s daughter dropped him at a barbershop near Dundas St. W. and Spadina Ave. when it was discovered he had wandered away, she contacted police to report him missing.

“There was concern because of his condition,” said Staff Sergeant Peter Morris. “He had his daughter’s phone on him and when we requested a ping, it came back to the Lakeshore W. and Bathurst St. area.”

Officers attended that area and started a search.

“There were two other pings with the last one indicating he was eastbound on the Martin Goodman Trail along the waterfront,” noted Morris.

Constables Jose Perez and Mark Da Silva of the Mounted Unit were in the area on patrol when 14 officers approached them.

“We were in the Harbourfront & Queens Quay W. area and they had a photo of the missing man,” said Perez, whose mount is Ogichidaa. “They told us the last ping was around that area and that is where we started checking.”

It took about 10 minutes before the Mounted officers found the man, taking advantage of their flexibility of travelling on horses they ducked down a dead end laneway to connect to Lake Shore Blvd.

“We went behind 390 Queen’s Quay W. where I located him walking eastbound on the sidewalk,” Perez said, of an underused pedestrian route sandwiched by dumpsters of nearby condos and a busy Lake Shore Blvd.

Horses walking
Ogichidaa and Normandy on the Queen's Quay Photo: Kevin Masterman

Perez said the horses have a great calming effect on most people they encounter and despite the missing man’s stress at his surroundings, he was no different.

“He appeared to be disoriented and confused but with the aspect of the mount being there, he approached him and started petting him. He made a connection to OG and loved the aspect that the horse was there,” said Perez. “I had time to radio that we had found the man and 14 Division officers came by to pick him up.”

Da Silva, who has been with the Mounted Unit for almost four years, was riding Normandy.

“One of the great advantages of doing police work on horseback is we sit high and tall and we can see things an officer on the ground wouldn’t be able to see,” said Da Silva, noting that he can pick out a person in a crowd of hundreds right away – whether it be someone who is injured or someone who has committed an assault or another offence.

Perez said the horses can go into streams and wooded areas that only officers on foot could travel, but couldn't cover the ground as quickly, and are well suited to the city as they can travel down tight laneways and roads that would be awkward to access with vehicles.

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