By Nick Dobis, News Web/Social Media Producer
After seven years of outstanding service, “Ray” will be retiring from the force. But without the funds necessary to fill Ray’s paws, the Chico Police Department will have to do without another vital resource to combat the recent rise in violent crime.
This week, the Chico Police Department announced the retirement of “Ray”, one of the Department’s top K9’s. Ray is a 9-year-old male German shepherd, and if you wish to read his birth certificate, that is German as well. Ray was born in Germany in 2004, and arrived in California to fulfill his police duties in 2006.
“The training for these dogs in Europe is 1000 times better than in the United States,” said Officer Jeff Durkin, Ray’s Handler. “Most of his commands are in German, and almost all of the best trained German Shepherds come exclusively from Germany.”
In Ray’s case, his career gives that European reputation its bite.
During Jeff and Ray’s seven year career together, Ray was deployed 820 times as a K9 for the city of Chico. During that time, Ray made 33 arrests of violent criminals, conducted 355 building searches due to alarms or unlawful entries, 156 neighborhood searches for wanted violent criminals or those hiding from police and 28 article searches.
Ray’s last day of official service was June 27. On that day, despite showing signs of wear and tear, this old dog proved his worth once again.
On June 27, Ray and Durkin were dispatched to assist CHP with a traffic stop in Chico after one of the suspects fled the scene. According to the Chico Police Department’s press release, the suspect was a wanted violent felon who fled from police several times in the past.
The search for the suspect took Ray and Durkin over streets, business complexes, bushes, and even through a field. It appeared the suspect may have slipped away from law enforcement fingers again until Ray made his faithful alert at the door of a trailer near the field.
“We checked the door and it was locked. Without Ray pointing it out, we may have just moved on,” said Durkin. “Eventually the suspect surrendered, and when I asked him for my report if he came out because of my commands, the suspect said ‘no, I really didn’t want to get bit by that dog.”
K9’s like Ray help save police officers hundreds of man hours each year when conducting searches as well as act as a deterrent in potentially dangerous situations. Despite how vital of a tool Ray and his counterparts are, Officer Durkin said the department does not have the finances to fund a new K9 unit.
In its 2012 Crime Report, the Department estimated a 7% increase in violent crime from the previous year, reversing a three-year trend. Despite the reverse trend, the City Council voted to cut the Department’s Budget by $2,496,094 in an attempt to juggle the city’s financial crisis. After approving the cuts, the City Manager was advised to try to find a way to find more funding to bring back six officers positions.
“These animals do an amazing job for us, they save man hours and they save lives,” said Sgt. M. Nelson with the Chico Police Department. “But they also cost a lot of money to maintain, and with the cuts the city has made we are now down to two K9 units for the whole department.”
Officer Durkin has now returned to his normal patrol assignment, while Ray will enjoy being a pet at home with Officer Durkin and his family. The Department stated in its press release “Ray will be missed as he was certainly an asset to the Police Department, Officer Durkin, and the community as a whole.”