A unique, but important veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is hanging up his saddle. Eli, the German Warmblood, is a Mounted Patrol officer who is retiring after ten years with the department.
ELIOTT RODRIGUEZ: All new at 5:30, a 10-year veteran of the force in South Florida is set to retire. Eli's career as a mounted patrol officer was as unique as it is an important part of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. CBS 4's Ted Scouten reports from Fort Lauderdale.
TED SCOUTEN: You'd never know by looking at him, but Eli is a 22-year-old German warmblood, a 10-year vet of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. His days on the job, though, are coming to an end.
KARA KURAS: Eli gets to go to what I call Disneyland for horses. It is a few hundred acres with about 120 rescue horses, take or minus. He never has to have a saddle on him ever again. He gets to relax. He's gets to live his best life.
TED SCOUTEN: Officer Kara Kuras is Eli's partner. They've worked together for four years.
KARA KURAS: He's instrumental because he's so tall that even when we're out in a large crowd, we can look over and see what's going on, who's causing problems, who's not, and really police and do it effectively because we're on horseback.
TED SCOUTEN: Many times, we see the mounted patrol in parades or patrolling the beach, but these animals do a lot more than appear in photo ops. They're working members of the force. They train with officers and are an integral part of the Department.
KARA KURAS: Eli is our lead horse during protests and riots. And last year, on May 31, I rode him downtown. And there was fireworks being shot off at us and people throwing things, and he has no problem moving forward and really being that lead horse. He's always the bravest one in the group.
TED SCOUTEN: And Eli has a fun disarming side, too. He's able to calm people, even in their darkest moments.
KARA KURAS: Horses have a very healing energy. And they really help distract people from something traumatic that may be going on.
TED SCOUTEN: Now it's Eli's moment to run and relax after a job well done.
KARA KURAS: He is one of a kind, truly the best. I am so incredibly happy that he gets to retire. He's 22 years old. He's given us 10 great years of service, so he deserves it. I will be very sad to drop him off, but so happy that he gets to go.
TED SCOUTEN: Eli here will be heading into retirement next week in Alachua, Florida. That's up near Gainesville. He'll be going to the retirement home for horses at Mill Creek Farms. He'll be joining three other horses from Fort Lauderdale's mounted patrol. In Fort Lauderdale, Ted Scouten, CBS 4 News.
- A job well done.
ELIOTT RODRIGUEZ: How cool is Eli?
- Oh, congrats, Eli. Well, still ahead--
ELIOTT RODRIGUEZ: Another Florida retiree.
- That is true. Add him to the list.