K-9 cop taking a bite out of local crime

 

If women truly do love a man in uniform, Jack is probably a real
lady-killer.
Hollister – If women truly do love a man in uniform, Jack is probably a real lady-killer.

He’s sensitive and laid-back with a bad-boy side, loves kids and has great hair. He’s fiercely protective, but only when asked to be. He’s successful, loyal, smart and he only does what he’s told. Plus he’s foreign, so he probably has a great accent. At least as good an accent as a German shepherd can have.

As the only K-9 Unit in the San Benito County Sheriff’s Department’s, Jack has been sniffing out drugs, chasing down bad guys and quite literally taking a bite out of crime since leaving his native Germany seven years ago.

“Jack’s deployment record jacket is about this thick,” said his partner, Deputy Adam Lobdell, holding his hands out to show about 10 inches. “His deployments have been in the hundreds, if not the thousands.”

Jack’s track record speaks volumes about his training and experience. At least 79 of his deployments resulted in a felony arrests, Lobdell said. Whether he’s tracking suspects, searching cars for drugs or fending off armed suspects, Jack’s the officer you want by your side in a time of danger.

“He’s trained to do whatever I say, and not until I say it,” said Lobdell, who had to learn commands in Jack’s native German. “The only exception is officer protection. If I’m in danger, he’ll attack.”

If Lobdell is in trouble, one touch of a button on his belt will open the door of his specially-equipped sheriff’s car, and Jack will come bounding out of the back seat to his rescue.

In addition to his regular job with the sheriff’s department, where he and Lobdell work four days a week, Jack is also sometimes called in to help the California Highway Patrol and even the Unified

Narcotics Enforcement Team. He and Lobdell do maintenance training twice a month in scenarios they might see on the street, like vehicle searches. And in 1999, they even went down to Los Angeles for a special week-long training program, where they learned how to deal with live fires and other dangerous situations.

“It’s like an FBI course for K-9s,” Lobdell said.

Jack’s the kind of employee the FBI would probably want. Once, when the San Benito County Sheriff’s department chased a violent suspect all the way to Watsonville and lost him, Lobdell said, Jack knew exactly what to do.

“All these other officers were running right but Jack wanted to go left,” Lobdell said. “I said ‘I’m going with him’ and I followed him left, and sure enough there was a barn and the guy was hiding out in there with a gun. He was positioned in a way that he had barricaded himself and he could shoot at us when we came in, but Jack jumped up and bit him on the hand so he dropped his gun.”

It’s not hard to imagine the scene playing out. Jack is one of those dogs who’s so big he looks like he could stand up on his hind legs and fight a guy like a bear. Last week, Deputy Lobdell described him to a Leadership San Benito class as “This big woolly mammoth-looking thing.”

But when he’s off-duty Jack acts like a playful puppy. He lives at home with Lobdell and his family, which includes two kids and two other dogs – another German shepherd and a Boxer.

“I always tell the school kids when we do presentations that he’s like a light switch. You can turn him on and off; it’s just like a game to him,” Lobdell said.

When Jack gets a command in German, he’s “on.” This is when he can be fierce and intimidating. But when he’s “off,” cruising around town looking for trouble or hanging out at home, Lobdell said, Jack’s just like any other dog. He loves playing with Lobdell’s 12- and 6-year-old kids and the other dogs and running around the backyard. He’ll come up and rest his head on your knee while you watch TV, and he’ll position himself between the two children’s rooms at night to protect them. And of course, he likes to lounge around and be petted. He doesn’t even bark at strangers.

“He’s very curious, very aware, very affectionate,” Lobdell said of his partner.

At first though, that wasn’t the case. Jack originally came from Germany to Menlo Park, where a specialist continued his German obedience, tracking and attack training. Once the Sheriff’s department purchased Jack, Lobdell went up to Menlo Park and they spent a month training together. They even lived in a hotel room with each other.

“At the beginning it was like he was teaching me because he knew more than I did. Initially, Jack was in charge,” Lobdell said. But as they began to work together – and as Lobdell learned to put more conviction into his German commands, he said – they developed a relationship that’s still strong today.

“Since he’s the only K-9 in the county, Jack’s on call 24/7; he loves to work. On days when he has gotten shots or something where he can’t work, or when I work overtime, he’ll follow me down the hall when I’m leaving like ‘I’m going with you!'” said Lobdell.

Jack’s workaholic behavior has been a huge benefit for the county as a whole and especially for the sheriff’s department, Lobdell said. His imposing stature, sharp teeth and quick thinking in dangerous situations get suspects into custody with bite marks instead of bullet wounds, and make anyone with a gun think twice about opening fire on a cop.

“We’ve had a lot of really bad guys, and Jack’s managed to take them into custody for our safety, as well as for their own,” said Lobdell.

Jessica Quandt covers politics for the Free Lance. Reach her at 831-637-5566 ext. 330 or at [email protected]

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