BELFAST — As part of a developing partnership with the Belfast Police Department, Ret. U.S. Army Col. Gerry Scott returned to Belfast Nov. 2 with his Horses Over America program to share with Belfast area school students.

According to Belfast Police Chief Robert Cormier, the department partnered with Scott and Regional School Unit 71 schools to have Scott take his horse Hercules and dog Molly around to area schools as part of the program.

On Nov. 2, Scott came to Troy Howard Middle School and spent the day there as other Belfast area schools were bused in. Students from East Belfast and Kermit Nickerson elementary schools, as well as students from Capt. Albert W. Stevens School, also participated in the day’s program.

Ret. U.S. Army Col. Gerry Scott stands next to his horse Hercules as students interact with the animal Nov. 2 at Troy A. Howard Middle School in Belfast. Photo courtesy of Robert Cormier

 

Cormier said the event went well with students broken up into three groups. The department also brought its new motorcycle and a patrol vehicle to the event and students were allowed to move between the horse, motorcycle and patrol car and ask questions and interact with officers.

“I thought the whole day was a home run,” Cormier said. “To see the kids bonding with the officers was really important for the department.”

Ret. U.S. Army Col. Gerry Scott riding his horse Hercules interacts with students at Troy A. Howard Middle School Nov. 2. His dog Molly can also be seen in the lower right. Photo courtesy of Robert Cormier

 

The department is still working on developing its own Horses Over America program for Belfast. Cormier said Scott is planning to reach out to area horse owners to gauge their interest in participating.

“The plan is to try to put together a conference call with Scott and local horse owners to discuss the program,” Cormier said. “I would like to explore it further to see if it is possible here.”

Horses Over America, a program created by Scott, partners with police departments to use horses as a way to interact with the community.

“Horses can be unifying if used properly,” Scott said during an early September interview with The Republican Journal. “Anywhere I go with my horse, people walk up to me.”

The program in its execution is pretty simple. Scott said that when he comes to a town for a Horses Over America day, he works with local departments and takes his horse around to visit different community entities such as schools and nursing homes.

“The mission is two-fold. It is focused on mental health, but it is also focused on community policing,” he said during the previous interview. “When people see an officer with my horse, they will never view that officer in the same way again.”