Its National Police Week! Thank you so much for all the positive responses to our weekly Master Officer series!
Here’s one more from a proud SMPD K-9. (From his handler, not the dog. Borry is still working on his typing skills!)
The San Mateo Police Department Master Officer Program identifies an elite group of officers within our department who have earned the title “Master Officer” based not only on their yearly performance evaluations, but also on their years of experience and various expertise. SMPD is lucky to recognize our largest number of Master Officers ever in 2016, each of whom will be submitting a personal article on a topic of their choice, allowing our community the rare chance of getting to know the people behind the SMPD badge…
The Pride in Being an SMPD K-9
By SMPD K-9 and Master Officer Travis Barker
I began my law enforcement career with the San Mateo Police Department in 2007 and was honored to be selected to the K-9 unit in 2009 and was united with my K-9 partner, Borry. Borry was born in Dec. 2007 in Czechoslovakia and immediately started training as soon as he was able to see.
Borry and I started with a 160 hour basic handler course, where you’re taught how to work, move tacitly, and read your K-9 partner’s movements. After the basic handler course, Borry and I also attended a 160 hour narcotics detection course. This is a course that teaches your K-9 partner to detect certain odors related to narcotics and how to read his movements when he’s in the “odor” of narcotics. After that, Borry and I continued our training by attending an 80 hour tracking course. This allows Borry and I to track missing persons, including children who possibly wandered away from home, or even wanted persons. All of this training never stops after you graduate the course and Borry and I attend maintenance training every week.
Borry and I hit the streets of San Mateo, well trained and ready to work and protect our San Mateo community. I’ll never forget my first use of my loyal K-9. A fellow officer was behind a stolen car which turned into a short pursuit that ended at a dead end street. When Borry and I arrived, the other officer had already jumped a fence and was in foot pursuit. The stolen vehicle was running and the other officers patrol car’s siren still going. I jump out and deploy Borry, who immediately begins to circle the suspect car, not hearing my commands over the siren. I finally get control of Borry and deploy him over a short fence. I followed right behind him. The two of us end up in waist deep water in a creek. I remembered thinking to myself, “if this is what it’s going to be like every day at work, I’m going to need more uniforms”! Unfortunately, the suspect got away but was apprehended by our detective bureau a couple of days later.
One of my proudest moments actually came when I was not working the streets or apprehending suspects. It came in the form of a second grade class from St. Timothy Catholic School. This amazing class of second graders raised funds for Borry to receive a ballistic vest. They did this by each student selling “Bow-Wow Bones”. These were homemade dog biscuits made by the teacher and parents of the students. The vest was presented to Borry and I at a school assembly. Each of the second graders got to hug and or pet Borry at the end of the assembly. When most of your job is spent dealing with the uglier side of life, it was very refreshing to see the good that people do and the sacrifice they make to help a dog they may never see again.
I had a lot of fond moments with Borry but after almost 5 years on the street, it was time to give other San Mateo Officers the honor and privilege to serve as a K-9 officer. Little did I know that would not be the last our city would see of K-9 Borry. Due to injury and vacancies in the K-9 program, I made it known to the police department that Borry and I would be interested in returning as a team to protect our community. With the blessing of the department, Borry and I have returned to work, proving Borry himself was not ready to retire to the doggy care home and he is clearly happy to be back!
Look for us on the street and if we’re not too busy Borry, fee free to stop and say hi!!!
—Officer Travis Barker
Officer Travis Barker is a 9-year veteran of the San Mateo Police Department. He is also an unabashed “dog person”, caring deeply not just for Borry, but also for his own dogs as cherished four-legged members of his family. Our department family is excited to have Borry back on duty!