The José Milton Foundation and José Milton & Associates Refurbish Horse Stables for Mounted Patrol Police

Miami-Dade Police Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit was disbanded but revived by philanthropy and respect for law enforcement

Alec Milton, Cecil & Ana Milton and Eric Milton with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava at the Tropical Park Equestrian Center, home of the Miami-Dade Mounted Police Unit and Stables

The Tropical Park Equestrian Center was home to the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit – officers who patrol on horseback – until 2009, when it was disbanded amidst the U.S. financial crisis. After several failed attempts to revive the Unit, the Department finally got approval in 2022, but the stalls formerly used to house the horses had deteriorated significantly.

“It took several weeks for two Mounted Patrol Unit officers to clear out the stalls,” said Brian Ballou, MDPD information officer, “revealing crumbling and uneven floors, cracked woodwork, and rusted ironwork.”

The Department had no budget for the necessary repairs. But when the Milton Family Foundation hosted and sponsored last year’s Veteran’s Day MDPD Military Appreciation Luncheon, Retired Sgt. Paul Hernandez – our long-time friend and champion of police – reached out to my husband Cecil Milton to see if we could help. Without pause, he agreed to donate the work and materials needed to bring the stalls back to life.

Mounted Police Unit Officers Jose Trujillo and Christina Jacobs, Major Thamy Gonzalez, Commissioner JC Bermudez, Commissioner Kevin Cabrera, Director of Parks Maria Nardi, the Honorable Daniella Levine Cava, the Milton Family, Vice Chairman Anthony Rodriguez, Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia, Interim Police Director Stephanie Daniels, and Mounted Police Officer Jason Rodriguez cut the ribbon – the stables is a joint project between Parks Department, MDPD, the Mayor’s Office, District 10, and the Milton Family (private philanthropists who donated the work and materials to refurbish the stables)

After months of work, the 20 stalls were dramatically transformed. Eight stalls were converted into utility rooms and a tack room for storage and maintenance of saddles, bridles, and other riding equipment. The Unit’s on-site workspaces were updated to include air conditioning and new flooring. The roof and doors of the entire section were restructured, sanded, primed, and painted. The gravel floors were excavated and leveled for proper drainage. Misting systems were attached to the stalls to cool down the horses and to dispense mosquito repellent when necessary. Four stalls were refurbished for the Police Officer Assistance Trust (POAT). My family has long supported POAT, which raises money and assists officers and their immediate families in times of hardship and personal crisis. POAT cares for and preserves the Law Enforcement Memorial and will store the portable memorial in one of the stalls. Two stables are designated to Coral Gables Mounted Police for their horses. MDPD collaborates with all local police agencies to keep our community safe.

For more than 30 years, my family has contributed to the Department through monetary donations, fundraising events, sponsorships, and restoration projects. This project, in particular, was really a labor of love for my family. We love horses; we love our police. We think that the union of horses, police, and community policing is perfect. Officers on horseback are more approachable and highly visible. Mounted police bring people together (public and community relations) while being very effective at crowd control.

Mounted Police Unit Officers Christina Jacobs, Kenny Diuedonn, and Jason Rodriguez, Retired Sgt. Paul Hernandez, Alec Milton, Oreste Garcia (Project Manager for the Milton Family), Eric Milton, Cecil Milton holding the key to District 10, Ana VeigaMilton, Commissioner Kevin Cabrera, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Commissioner JC Bermudez, Vice Chairman Anthony Rodriguez, Major Thamy Gonzalez, and Mounted Police Officer Jose Trujillo

At the ceremony, Maria Nardi, the Director of the Miami-Dade County Parks Department, said, “This is just one great example that with partnerships and donations like we are seeing here today from the Milton family, we can see extraordinary improvements that will be long-lasting, and will contribute greatly to the common goals and mission and vision that we have to build an extraordinary community.”

Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also recognized us. “The Milton Family has a special spot in their hearts for law enforcement,” said Mayor Levine Cava. “What we have here today is not just a restored stables, but a whole new standard for care for our horses and the mounted patrol.”

Vice Chairman Anthony Rodriguez from District 10, Westchester area and Tropical Park, presented Cecil and our family with a key to District 10. This was especially meaningful since I grew up in Westchester and Tropical Park was my stomping ground!

“With almost two decades of abandonment, overgrown weeds, things falling apart, the walls, the ceiling, everything needed to be completely redone,” Cecil said at the Reveal Ceremony. “We jumped right on it; we’re developers, so rehabbing stables is what we can do for our police and our community; it’s been a pleasure.”


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