As a former K9 handler, and one who has lived through having his K9 partner shot on a SWAT call out, I cannot stress to you how devastating events like this are. Police Service Dogs are not machines that are put in a kennel when they are off-duty. They go home with their officers and are part of their families. The bond between the handler and his partner is extremely tight. The job of being a K9 handler is one of the most dangerous in police work; the K9 and their handler must rely on one another to come home safely at the end of their watch. Sometimes, like Tuesday, they don’t get to come home to their families.
When you interview to become a K9 handler, one of the first questions you are asked is, if the circumstances dictated, could you deploy your partner even if it meant he could be injured or killed. This is a responsibility no handler takes on lightly. As police officers we are sworn to protect the members of our community. That responsibility does not change for the handler. This profession is a constant struggle to balance the safety of the community with the safety and our love for our partners.
We, at the Long Beach K9 Officers Association, have dedicated ourselves to supporting the Long Beach Police Department Police Service Dog Unit. We are a community-based non-profit organization that raises funds to purchase police service dogs, and pay for healthcare and equipment. For many, we are the face of the Police K9 Unit, but we are not part of the City of Long Beach.
We have received a great deal of interest about Mike and Credo. Some of the emails are simply to offer support, others ask questions. I would like to take this opportunity to address some of these concerns.
Why did you let this happen? As I said above, we are not part of the City of Long Beach. We provide Police Service Dogs to the officers to work for the City. Therefore, we do not set their tactics. Tactics are controlled by Police Department policy and procedures. They are also driven by the situation and can change on a moment’s notice. Finally, the suspect ultimately makes the final choice. He can choose to fight or comply. In this case he chose to fight. Believe me; we understand the pain and frustration you are feeling. However, we choose to place the responsibility for what happened on Tuesday where we feel it belongs, on the suspect.
Do your dogs wear/need vests? The K9 Association has provided ballistic vests to our Police Service Dogs. They are custom fitted and expensive, but we have received generous support in the past and have purchased them. K9 handlers have evaluated them and have found that they are heavy, clumsy and very hot. These factors can affect the K9s ability to perform and their safety. Additionally, these vests offer limited ballistic protection; they are not bulletproof. The tactical situation dictates whether the use of the vest is practical and the handler makes this assessment based on the totality of the circumstances.
Will there be some form of memorial/where can I send flowers? The K9 Officers Association and the Long Beach Police Department have worked together to arrange a memorial service for Credo. It will be held on July 20, 2016 at 1:00 PM at the Long Beach Police Officers Association Park. This is located at 7390 Carson Street in Long Beach, in the Long Beach Towne Center. The park is located at the rear of Lowes, next to the Police Academy. There is limited parking and we suggest you arrive early. If you would like to send flowers, please wait for the memorial. If you wish to send a card to Mike and his family, please send it to the Long Beach K9 Officers Association at PO Box 17366, Long Beach, CA 90807-7366 and it will be delivered to him to read when the time is appropriate.
What can I do? One of the things that made me proud to have been a K9 handler was the community support we received. I understand the frustration and anger many of you are feeling. If you choose, you may support the Police Service Dog Unit and the effort to purchase a new K9 by donating to the Association. There is a link on this page where you may make a donation, or you can send a check to the address above. Finally, this is an extremely difficult time for all of us. Please keep Credo, Mike and his family and the Long Beach Police Department in your prayers.
President, Long Beach K9 Officers Association
WELCOME TO THE HOME OF THE LONG BEACH K9 OFFICERS ASSOCIATION
The Long Beach K-9 Officers Association is a non-profit organization which was established by members of the community with the goal of promoting and supporting the K-9 Unit. The Association has no official connection with the City of Long Beach.
It is a little-known fact that the City of Long Beach does not purchase its own dogs for use in the Police K-9 Unit; the individual officers who wish to handle the dogs must share in the purchase of their first dog. These K-9 teams represent a unique and important asset to both the Police Department and the City of Long Beach.
Among its other activities, the Association provides financial assistance to acquire new dogs for the K-9 Unit as well as assisting in the food and medical costs of those dogs retired from the active duty role of police K-9 work.
While the annual budget of the Association varies with the needs of the K-9 Unit, it typically costs over $40,000 per year to fund the program. You can help defray these costs and invest in your K-9’s by becoming a personal or corporate member of the Association as well as by corporate sponsorship and planned estate giving.