The sheriff in Lake County, Ohio, said his employees did not mean to offend anyone when they dressed up the mounted unit’s horses as ghosts for Halloween.
The horses were covered in white sheets with holes cut out for their eyes, ears and nostrils. They were also wearing bright orange pumpkin lights.
“So, the riders thought, ‘What a great idea to have big ghosts going down the street,'” Lake County Sheriff Frank Leonbruno said. “As the horses went down the street, they were lit up for Halloween. To tell you the truth, the community loved it. Kids said they were great ghost horses.”
But after pictures of the horses were posted on the department’s social media page, Leonbruno said the department began receiving negative comments, so he took the post down.
Still, some residents of Lake County reached out to Nexstar’s WJW, saying they were upset by the costumes.
“Is there nobody on staff that is like, ‘This is not a good idea?’” said resident Katelynn Gurbach. “A sheriff’s office should be out there protecting people, and if I saw that on my street, I would be terrified.”
Another resident said he was shocked when he saw the pictures.
“That was a poor execution for a ghost,” said the Lake County man, who asked not to be identified. “You go back and look at pictures of the Ku Klux Klan, it’s like the exact replica of what the horses looked like.”
The sheriff stressed that he does not believe his employees did anything wrong, and that the costumes were never meant to offend anyone.
“I’m sorry that perception was there,” Leonbruno said. “It was never our intention to do that.”