Awards and Appreciation, Dog News

When CDCR K-9 teams compete, communities win

Three officers and their dogs stand in front of a Riverside County Sheriff mobile operations unit van.
The CDCR team proudly displays their trophies.

CDCR has recently completed its Drug Interdiction Program K-9 expansion with the completion of its June 4, 2019, K-9 Academy Graduation. K-9 teams at each of CDCR’s 35 adult institutions have proven to be one of the most effective tools in discovering both narcotics and contraband within state institutions.

These K-9 teams have proven they are equally effective in supporting each of CDCR’s values and its mission to enhance public safety. K-9 Teams across the state have been busy working in our communities and below are some of the most recent events:

Three correctional officers pose for a photo.
Officers Gutierrez, Manrriquez and Duenas.

On Oct. 18, CDCR K-9 Teams participated in the Community Trunk or Treat event held by the California Institution for Men. With state vehicles decorated and K-9’s Dressed as Superheroes, CDCR K-9 teams had the opportunity to interact with the community, answer questions, and perform several K-9 demonstrations showcasing what makes our K-9’s so super. Touting approximately 700 members of the community in attendance the CDCR K-9 team vehicles proved to be a crowd favorite, drawing cheers, overflowing candy bags and plenty of wagging tails.

Officer Lupe Gutierrez and K-9 Dexter.

On Oct. 24, CDCR K-9 Teams assisted Falcon Ridge Elementary in Fontana in hosting their local Red Ribbon Week campaign events. Red Ribbon Week is an alcohol, tobacco, and other drug and violence prevention awareness campaign observed annually in October in the United States. According to the United States DEA, Red Ribbon Week is the nations largest and longest-running drug awareness and prevention program.

California Institution for Women Correctional Officer’s Lupe Gutierrez and K-9 Dexter and Officer Jose Manrriquez and K-9 Duke along with California City Correctional Facility Correctional Officer Jackson and K-9 Kobe spoke to students at Falcon Ridge about the dangers of drug use / abuse, the importance of staying drug free, and how CDCR K-9’s do their part to keep the community safe.

Students were treated to a fun and interactive K-9 demonstration which placed each student in the position of Junior K-9 Handler. Students learned how incredible the sense of smell K-9’s have, how K-9’s are trained and entrusted with a unit coined catch phrase to let each K-9 know they’ve done a great job.

The school auditorium was filled with cheering Junior K-9 Handlers, who all pledged to stay drug free and who learned anything is “paw-sible” when you’re drug free.

Dog wearing badge and his handle pose with a trophy.
Ironwood State Prison Correctional Officer Martin and Camo took first prize for parcel detection.

On Nov. 2, 2019, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department hosted the 24th annual K-9 Trial and Public Safety Fair at George Ingalls Equestrian Event Center in Norco. The annual event hosted over 80 K-9 and dog-handler teams from various federal, state, county, and local law enforcement agencies in California, as well as teams from other states and Mexico. The teams competed in narcotics detection, evidence location, protection, agility and performance. Awards are issued to the top five contenders in each category with the chance at the highest prize, Top Dog.

This year, Ironwood State Prison (ISP) Correctional Officer Jason Martin and K-9 Camo participated in this event for the first time and earned a first place award for Parcel Search in the narcotics division. According to Officer Martin, Camo is a 4-year-old yellow lab who graduated the K-9 academy in March of 2017. He has been trained to detect the odor of narcotics (marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine) and contraband (cell phones and tobacco). Camo has already discovered over $500,000 worth of narcotics and contraband in his short career.

“He has earned 100 percent of my trust. I know when he gives an alert, there is going to be contraband and/or narcotics,” said Officer Martin.

They were joined by fellow handlers from the California Institution for Women who competed side by side representing CDCR. Correctional Officer Lupe Gutierrez and K-9 Dexter earned the fifth place award for Building Search in the narcotics division and  Officer Jose Manrriquez and K-9 Duke earned the fourth place award for the Vehicle Search in the Narcotics division.

“Going into the K-9 Unit I was unaware of the amount of responsibility you inherit as a canine handler, however it is the most exciting and rewarding job I can imagine,” said Officer Martin. “Officer Vance and I spend several hours a day searching and training in order to keep Camo and Rocky in top shape and performing at the highest level.”

Officer Vance and Rocky are ISP’s second K-9 team. Rocky graduated from the K-9 academy just 10 months ago and Officer Vance is looking forward to next year’s K-9 Trials.