BAKERSFIELD >> All three of the West Covina’s Police Department’s K-9 teams brought back awards, including the “Top Dog Overall” award, in a statewide competition hosted by Bakersfield police over the weekend.
Officer Matt Bowman and K-9 partner Rec earned the Top Dog honor for the department, while Officer Bryan Rodriguez and Reiko won first place in patrol protection and Officer Jesse Miller and Rocky won fourth place in overall best, according to West Covina police spokesman Rudy Lopez.
“I am very proud of the professionalism our K-9 teams showed, the time and preparation they invested in training and their overall performance,” West Covina Police Chief Dave Faulkner said. “Their success is attributed to discipline and ongoing training within the unit.”
Forty-two police dog teams from throughout California competed in a series of categories, including agility, obedience, searches, protection, narcotics detection and explosives detection, Lopez explained.
It was the West Covina Police Department’s first time joining the Bakersfield Police K-9 Trials, hosted by the Bakersfield Police Department, and they were up against much more experienced teams, Lopez said. Bowman has about eight months experience as a dog handler, while Miller has been a K-9 handler for about five months, and Rodriguez had been teamed with Reiko for 10 months.
And Reiko has recovered from being shot while apprehending a murder suspect who was ultimately killed by police.
It’s not always certain how a police dog will react to such a trauma, Lopez said. Some become more timid after such an experience.
But as evidenced by his performance over the weekend, Lopez said, “This dog became an even sharper dog.”
The West Covina police K-9 program is supported by the Friends of the West Covina Police Department K-9s. For more information, visit www.friendsofwcpdk9s.org.
In addition to commending the winning K-9 teams, Faulkner thanks the organization for their past and continued support.
“I also want to recognize and thank the Friends of WCPD K9s nonprofit group for their continued support in assisting us in our pursuit of adding a 4th Police K-9 to the Department,” the chief said.
The annual Bakersfield Police K-9 Trials is open to the public, with proceeds benefitting the Bakersfield-based charity, the Society for Disabled Children.
PHOTOS courtesy of the West Covina Police Department. From left to right (top photo): Officer Matt Bowman and Rec: Officer Bryan Rodriguez and Reiko; Officer Jesse Miller and Rocky.