No graduation cap, no gown or new car for graduation. But Jax, a Belgian malinois, may get his own version of a graduation gift – a diploma or certification. Jax recently became certified as a graduate of the Chula Vista Police Department’s K-9 training program on March 6.
“Jax is assigned to Officer Brian Olson,” said Capt. Phil Collum with the Chula Vista police department. “When a K-9 team is certified it means they have met all the requirements and are suited for all public safety use in the field.” Jax started Jan. 3.
“Employees compete for that assignment. The assignment can include a written application and resume, a review of personnel records and training, and an interview of the potential candidate,” Collum said, explaining how officers are chosen for the unit.
“The dogs attend a K-9 academy locally. We have a K-9 vendor and a lead trainer — Manuel Villanueva. He owns Man K-9.” said Lt. Dan Peak. “He is known as one of the experts in the state for basic K-9 handling and detection. That detection includes narcotics.”
The Chula Vista K-9 unit consists of six dogs, two German shepherds and four Belgian malinois.
“All of our K-9s are male —an industry standard,” said Peak. “A police dog can cost $12,000 a piece and serve approximately six years.”
Having these kinds of officers on the force can be a little costly.
“It’s approximately ($45,000) to outfit a new K-9- equipped vehicle. The annual K-9 budget can change based on if we need to buy a new K-9 and send the new dog/handler to the K-9 academy.”
“Jax is really good,” said Peak.