King City K9 steps up during low staffing levels

KING CITY, Calif. - Saving lives and defending the law with four paws.  We're talking about the very important role a K9 plays in one of our local police departments.  We're taking a look at how K9 Dix and his handler made their way to King City.  Their efforts are crucial right now, especially at a time when the King City Police Department is dealing with several alleged corruption cases.

Sergeant Kip Bowen and Dix have been together six years and are putting their skills and dedication to good use.  Dix is 78 pounds of fur and intellect.  He and Sgt. Bowen spend more time with one another than anyone else.  Two years ago, they were even laid off together in San Benito County.

"County-wide budget cut and the current county board of supervisors laid off 6 deputies, of which I was the most senior," Sgt. Bowen said.

But last year they were hired in King City.

"Dix still had life in him and although the county sold him to me for a dollar, it's great to deploy him again because he wasn't quite done with his duties," Sgt. Bowen said.

Sgt. Bowen said Dix works patrol part-time because of administrative responsibilities.  When he's on duty, he fills two very important roles.  

"Because he's a light switch.  You can turn him on and off.  If I turn him off he can deal with children all day long.  If I turn him on, he's gonna deal with a bad guy," Sgt. Bowen said.

Just because he's dog, doesn't mean he can't wear special equipment.  Soon Dix will be getting new gear.  He'll get a new Kevlar vest that's stab-proof and bullet-proof.

"It's actually a better vest than what officers get," Sgt. Bowen said. 

The vest is something Dix could've used during an encounter with a suspect, high on meth. 

"We backed up two Hollister police officers for approximately 6 to 7 minutes with an armed suspect and the only reason why he didn't pull out his gun sooner, that he had in his waistband the whole time was because he was fending off my dog," Sgt. Bowen said.

But for this pair, time at ease is always more fun.

"He's had numerous close interactions with children.  Very positive.  They always get a lick on the face and they always seem to love it," Sgt. Bowen said.

Kevlar for K9's is the non-profit that will present the vest to Dix next week.  Santa Cruz Veterinarian Hospital is sponsoring the vest, costing about $1,200.

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