Dedicated Duke sets high bar for human colleagues
■ By Taj Shorter / Reporter
The K-9 unit is a dedicated branch of the Hemet Police Department. Specific duties performed by K9 officers and police dogs on a regular basis include discovering illicit drugs, explosives, chemicals and other illegal substances, finding and rescuing individuals that are missing or have been kidnapped, and tracking and apprehending fugitives fleeing from the law.
Recently, one of Hemet’s finest, K-9 “Duke” assisted in an officer involved shooting on May 27 in Hemet. Out of discipline to his duties, Duke apprehended a suspect on foot despite being injured in his hind leg by a fleeing truck during the incident. After the suspects were apprehended, Duke was taken to a local veterinarian hospital to be treated for his injuries.
An update from Lt. Eddie Pust confirmed that Duke was stable and recovering while sustaining his leg injury. It still has not been confirmed when he will be able to return to the line of duty. Nonetheless, Duke’s loyalty and determination to assist the police was a heroic act during the incident and proves he is an asset to the department.
The canine program for Hemet PD is highlighted on the City of Hemet’s website which includes lots of information on the officers and the dogs. Team members are typically chosen from ranks in the department to serve as K-9 Officers in addition to their regular assignments. Members must stay in great physical shape and interact successfully with the canine. The duo becomes a pair of true partners living and working together. To maintain their skills, the K-9 teams train once a week.
According to the Hemet Police K-9 Unit Facebook page, the goal as a K-9 Unit is to “reduce the overall crime rate within the City of Hemet, ensure the safety of citizens and its officers, and to render assistance as needed to surrounding communities and schools.”
They also educate the youth on the dangers and consequences of getting involved with criminal activity such as drugs through the use of community K-9 demonstrations. K-9 demonstrations for any local community or business events, or for any local schools can contact Lt. Dickson or any of the K-9 team members at 951-765-2400.