National City Police officer Raziel Quiroga’s partner is of a different breed.
Unlike Quiroga, who has a badge and a gun, Marko comes equipped with a loud bark and some razor sharp teeth.
The National City Police Department was looking to buy a new dog to replace Peer, a 10-year-old veteran canine who is retiring this month after seven years of service.
But the police department was able to save about $12,000 when it received Marko as a donation from the U.S. Navy SEALs.
“It’s a great savings to the taxpayers,” said National City Police Chief Manuel Rodriguez.
With the SEALs, Marko trained as a service and bomb-detecting dog, but when the dog didn’t meet the Navy’s requirements the SEALs had no use for him, Rodriguez said, so the SEALs contacted the police department about making a donation.
Rodriguez said as long as the rookie K-9 follows commands and obeys his handler, then the department shouldn’t have a problem with Marko.
Both Quiroga and the dog attended a rigorous five-week training that teaches the dog obedience and control.
Marko serves the department as a police service dog where he is used to search for evidence and to calm situations down.
“People are willing to fight an officer; when they see a dog that changes,” Rodriguez said. “Most of the time people will give up when they see a dog growling at them.”
Quiroga said the dog, or any K-9 on the police force, is trained not to use deadly force.
Quiroga said Marko is adjusting to police work quite well.
“He likes it (police work) a lot. He enjoys it. He sees new things,” Quiroga said.
In his first taste of action, Quiroga said, Marko successfully made his first arrest.
Quiroga said he got a tip that a wanted suspect was staying at a hotel.
The suspect was said to be armed and dangerous, Quiroga said. When Quiroga knocked on the door and identified himself, the suspect refused to come out and hid.
Quiroga then let Marko inside the hotel room where he found the suspect hiding underneath the bed.
Shortly after, the suspect gave up and was apprehended, Quiroga said.
Quiroga said Marko makes him feel safe as a police officer because had he not had the dog he would have had to put his life and possibly the community in danger by confronting the suspect.
Rodriguez said the rookie K-9 has a personality of his own.
“It’s like having a teenager,” he said. “He’s very anxious and wants to get involved with everything.”
Currently the K-9 unit employs four dogs, including Marko; once Peer retires, three will be left.
This is the first time the department has received a dog from the federal government as a donation, though in the past it has received weapons.
Quiroga said there is a special bond between dog and officer.
“He is my partner when I’m out in the streets,” he said.
Rodriguez said Peer is to spend retirement as a family dog.
Because Marko was a donation and deemed an asset by the city, the National City City Council had to approve the donation.