The cop looked at the crate in the car, waiting in anticipation.
Inside the crate was a rambunctious 14-month-old Belgian Malinois — a gorgeous boy with a dark-cinnamon coat and black face and belly — ready to bust out and bolt onto the grass Tuesday in roasting-hot Beaumont in Riverside County.
But Fullerton Police Officer Scott Flynn wasn’t there for a walk in the park.
He and several other members of the Fullerton PD, including K9 officers present and past and a sergeant and lieutenant who oversee the unit, were there to determine whether the dog — current name Jobi — had the chops to cut it as a Fullerton PD K9 officer.
Flynn, 31, who is new to the K9 unit, was about to find out if his life would change.
If Jobi passed muster, he would go home with Flynn, live with him for several years, and be his new patrol partner.
Jobi first had to pass some two tests before the Fullerton PD would accept him as one of their own.
Beaumont was the setting because that’s where the chief instructor of Work Dogs International, Patrick V. Beltz, lives.
Beltz, a retired cop who worked for the Palm Springs and Riverside PDs, picked Jobi up Saturday from LAX, where he arrived from Mexico City.
To get to this stage, Jobi had to show great promise as a possible police dog.
Trained in Mexico City since he was 10 weeks old by a man who scours the globe for future police K9s and sells promising ones to trainers like Beltz, who in turns sells the dogs to police agencies, Jobi, to become a canine cop, had to show excellent temperament — friendly, but ready to take down a bad guy — and proper technique, among other skills and qualities.
The FPD was testing for the new K9 because of the recent retirement of Blitz, whose departure left the agency with two K9s, Mueller and Rotar.
A $15,000 donation from the Fullerton Ebell Woman’s Club — the total cost to buy and train the new dog — allowed the FPD to go shopping for a new dog.
Which is why a contingent from the FPD, including Lt. Rhonda Cleggett and Sgt. John Ema, as well as K9 Officers Tim Haid and Jonathan Miller, were at Noble Creek Park in Beaumont on Aug. 4.
Jobi’s first test was to wear a muzzle and bolt after a “bad guy” wearing protective clothing and holding a stick in a menacing manner.
The muzzle part is important because the mouth is a dog’s primary weapon. FPD officers wanted to make sure Jobi still would take down the bad guy despite being muzzled.
After Jobi met the contingent of cops, who each fed him small chunks of turkey dog, it was game on.
Muzzle on, Jobi darted toward the bad guy, Ryan Rentz, who works for Beltz.
Jobi rushed up and hit Rentz in the torso — the ideal spot.
He continued to go after Rentz despite the muzzle, staying focused as a visiting K9 officer from the Garden Grove PD, Corp. John Bankson, held him on the leash.
“He wants him so badly,” one cop said of Jobi.
“That looks really good,” said another.
“You like him?” Beltz asked the group.
The answer was obvious.
“You clearly can see he has a drive and knows what to do,” Flynn observed.
Beltz said he’s bought 52 dogs from his source in Mexico City and only had to send back one dog for failing the same tests conducted Tuesday.
Jobi had one more test to go: taking down a man, sans muzzle, in a bite suit.
That man was Beltz.
Like a bullet to a target, Jobi rushed after Beltz and leapt up and bit him on the right arm — the perfect technique to take down a bad guy.
“That’s a good hit!” Miller said.
It took several seconds for Bankson to apply a technique to get Jobi to release a bite that exerted about 1,000 PSI pounds of force.
“I’d say that’s a winner,” someone in the group of officers said.
Indeed, the vote was 6-0 to have Jobi join the Fullerton PD — once he gets through 10 weeks of training, of course.
Part of the training includes having Jobi learn commands in German instead of French, as well as tracking, obedience, agility, searching buildings/cars/areas, and sniffing out narcotics.
The FPD’s newest cop recruit hopped into the back of Flynn’s black-and-white to head to his home in Orange County.
Flynn was all smiles.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m also a little nervous. There will be a learning curve, but I’m very happy.”
Jobi began training Wednesday, Aug. 5. Five weeks will be in Beaumont and the other five will be on the job in Fullerton.
“A good police dog is like Sugar Ray Leonard,” said Beltz, referring to the need for a friendly disposition and a killer instinct. “You can go out and have drinks with him — just don’t ring a bell and swing at him.”
The Fullerton PD is asking the public to vote on the following seven names for its new K9, currently named Jobi.
Here are the choices:
You don’t have to be a resident to vote. The deadline is Friday, Aug. 14.
Send your choice for the new name to email@example.com