Safety

Highway Patrol K-9 officer has special connection to the Central Coast

Only female CHP K-9 officer in the state is here

California Highway Patrol K-9 Edy is on patrol on the Central Coast with Officer Julie Jensen. (Photo: California Highway Patrol)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A California Highway Patrol team comes with partners you won't find anywhere else in the state but here on the Central Coast.

Officer Julie Jensen is the only female CHP K-9 officer in California and since 2015 she's been partnered with Edy. He's a Belgian Malinois and responds to commands in Dutch and English.

As she opened the back door of her patrol unit on a Santa Barbara break Monday morning, Edy was ready. He came out on command and sat right next to officer Jensen.

"You ready? You ready? OK,  good boy!" she said. "He loves to work, he knows the minute I get my blues on we're going to work and he keeps pacing."

On patrol, the team has been working a wide geographical stretch for about three years, mainly in San Luis Obispo County.

Lately, they have been rolling on calls on the South Coast more frequently, but they can go anywhere. Sunday there was a call for a K-9 in Kern County they responded to.

Often they are backing up local agencies that have a K-9 out of service. That includes the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office and Santa Barbara Police Department on a search for felony suspects in the Montecito area after a home invasion. It's a job they have done many times in training exercises.

"We'll have somebody go off and hide. I will pull up and turn on the lights and siren, like it's a real deployment get him out, send him and he will find him, and it's pretty much every single time," said Jensen. 

In many cases, the dogs make a big difference in the suspects' decision to fight or run.

"I had a guy not too long ago and he was just coming over the fence. I gave him commands he saw Edy and he said 'I'm not moving I'm not moving!'"Jensen said.

Edy was also called out in the search for a bank robbery suspect in Goleta that was inside of a business building.

This team works from Ventura to Monterey County and it's not uncommon to work with more than one agency in a day like recently during two different pursuits.

Recently a suspect in a chase was running from officers.

"I was able to go out there and help the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department and as I was on my way to Ventura they had something similar so I was able to help the Ventura Sheriff's department. The word is getting out there. It's great," said Jensen.

Edy is always considered a non-lethal component to law enforcement.

"So he's trained to go for the arm go for the leg if they are running. We don't train them to go for the face of anything like that. He's a non-lethal tool just like my Taser," explained Jensen. 

For officer Jensen, who was raised having animals as pets in Santa Ynez and is a UC Santa Barbara graduate, working along the Central California coast and with a K-9 is a perfect fit for this lifelong animal lover and 24-year law enforcement veteran.

"I have always had dogs and cats. I was in 4-H, had horses. I couldn't imagine a better partner. He agrees with everything I say!" said Jensen.

The Belgian Malinois is a breed often used in searches because they have the ability to detect scents.  They are also used on narcotics teams, and Edy has been successful in finding drugs on local traffic stops here.    

The Malinois is also used by the Secret Service to protect the White House.


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