LIVINGSTON -- A Livingston man is facing DUI charges after being tracked down by an officer riding on horseback this past weekend.
Sonny is one of three Livingston Police Department horses that fight crime and the past weekend was busy for Sonny. He has been with the department for two years and has worked with Reserve Officer Joe Cruz for the past three and a half years after Cruz brought him to Livingston from Ohio.
Cruz said he and Sonny were patrolling the perimeter of the town’s Cinco de Mayo festival on Sunday when he saw something odd.
"When I saw a car, a large SUV, come out of a street called Aldrich. It made a very wide turn that seemed kind of odd to me and then it struck the curb and the vehicle bounced up and it came to a stop," Cruz said.
Cruz said he and Sonny trotted up to the driver at the intersection.
"When I first saw him he leaned back in his seat," Cruz said.
"I'm sure the driver was a little bit dumbfounded when he looked out and saw this big white horse and officer looking down at him," said Livingston Police Chief Ruben Chavez.
The police department said they arrested and booked 41-year-old Angel Ramirez on suspicion of driving under the influence after they found his blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit. The department reports Ramirez has had multiple arrests for DUIs.
For the police department, Cruz and Sonny’s work catching a suspected drunken driver shows horses in police departments are more than just for fun.
"The big difference is we are up high and we can see across the parking lot," Cruz said. "We can see across the festival and we can also cover a lot of ground."
"They say one horse is equal to ten officers on foot and all the horses are specially trained," Chavez said.
Though Cruz shrugs off the arrest as just another day on horseback, Chief Ruben Chavez says tracking down a drunken driver on horseback makes the expenses that come with having department horses worth it.
"There is a lot of upkeep. These guys you have to take care of them like they are your pet and they are," Chavez said. "They are your partner but that guy definitely posed a threat to our community and because of Sonny and Officer Cruz they were able to eliminate that threat, that danger."