LANCASTER, Pa. — Officer Duke, the longest-serving member of the Lancaster City Mounted Police Unit, is retiring after 18 years of service, the unit announced Monday.
The 22-year-old, 2,100-pound Percheron joined the Lancaster City Mounted Police Unit in 2002, after working for the first three years of his life as an Amish plow horse in Canada. He officially began patrolling with the Mounted Police Unit in 2003 after completing his training.
Residents and well-wishers can say good-bye to Duke at a "Coffee with a Cop" event Saturday at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design Art Park, which is located next to the Lancaster Bureau of Police Station on North Prince and West Chestnut streets. The event will begin at 10 a.m.
"Duke has served the citizens of Lancaster City and County for the past 18 years," the unit said on its Facebook page. "We are grateful for his many years of service and we want to give him a heroes send off!"
During his long service career, Duke has visited a number of schools and scout programs, served on protection details for VIPs and politicians during their visits to Lancaster, and assisted with crowd control for hundreds of downtown events. He even traveled to Pittsburgh in 2009 to assist during the G20 Summit and visited Philadelphia in 2015 to help protect Pope Francis during his visit there, the Mounted Police Unit said.
Duke also served as a trainer for new equine members of the Mounted POlice Unit, including the unit's two newest additions, King and Jake, who will also be introduced at Saturday's event, the Mounted Unit said.
"Duke has trained our current mounted officers as well as most of our horses," the Mounted Unit said. "Duke is a push button horse with an experienced rider, but would definitely test the limits of what he could get away with while training new mounted officers."
Duke will enjoy his retirement at a private farm, the Mounted Police Unit said.