■ By Kyle Selby / Reporter
Jack, the 6-year-old Belgian Malinois K9 officer of Hemet’s Police Department, passed away April 23 after a short battle with cancer. The following Tuesday night, Jack was honored by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and the Hemet City Council during a special memorial ceremony held in the City Council chambers.
“Over the last four years, we’ve had the incredible support of this department,” his handler, Officer Matt Gomez, choked between tears. “I always made it very clear that he wasn’t just the City’s dog, he wasn’t just my dog, he was your dog,” he told the packed crowd Tuesday night.
According to Police Chief Dave Brown, Jack passed away surrounded by Gomez, his family, and several members of the Hemet Police Department at his side.
Jack joined the Hemet Police Department on June 6, 2013, when he was paired with Gomez in Riverside. Officer Gomez joined HPD in 2011, two years prior.
“Matt and Jack were said to be the perfect match from the beginning. Having the same temperament, work ethic, and attention span,” joked Brown, as the audience joined him in laughter. “He has been involved in dozens of apprehensions of violent criminals – protecting the officers, and citizens of this valley…he will be sorely missed.”
Last year, Jack took home both 5th place Protection and 2nd place Area Search awards at the 21st annual Riverside County Sheriff’s Department 2016 K-9 Trials. He was deployed 1,834 times in the City of Hemet during his four-year career. He was the first HPD active duty K9 to pass away.