K9 fundraiser is going to the dogs

Andrade family - David, Gabriele, Michael (3) Christopher (6), K
Andrade family: David, Gabriele, Michael (3), Christopher (6), K-9 Ofc Quwai and Glendale police Ofc. Aaron Hamilton at a recent public outreach event.Photo by Mary O’KEEFE

Sharing a typical day with the Glendale Police K-9 unit.

By Shana LiVIGNI

The Glendale Police Department hosted a fund raising event at Verdugo Park a few weeks ago when Officers Robert Wynkoop, Maribel Feeley, Shawn Sholtis and Aaron Hamilton showed off their highly skilled German shepherd K-9 partners Marlin, Yudy, Sam and Quwai. The (human) officers spent time answering questions and sharing stories with the folks who attended. This week it’s an inside look at one of those four prestigious officer teams – Ofc. Hamilton and his K-9 partner Quwai.

The pair typically work 10½ hours a day, four days a week, but they work as they are needed and every shift brings new situations. Officer Hamilton outlined a day in his life with the Glendale Police Department’s K-9 division:

“Quwai and I go to briefing at 2:30 p.m. We learn about special events/issues around the city and who we will be working with for the evening to come. We are on the streets until 1 a.m. and will get called back if need be.

Quwai and I are first responders. We go to traffic collisions, building alarms, initiate traffic enforcement matters and often respond to help out the other patrol officers on calls for service.” He continued, “If things are not busy we are training in the local parks, conducting public relations work, catching up with office work, conducting some proactive police work on the streets etc. I really try to focus on making positive contacts with public. Customer service is very important in the way we conduct business. There is a really big focus on customer service at the Glendale Police Department. It’s about building relationships with the people we come in contact with.”

Officer Hamilton has been with the Glendale Police Dept. for the past 10 years and has been a K-9 officer for the past three with his 6-year-old black German shepherd Quwai.

“Quwai does hard surface tracking, finds evidence, but his most favorite things are looking for ‘the bad guys’ when we’re looking for narcotics,” he confides. “He likes to do PR work.  He likes going to schools, he likes playing tug-of-war with the kids and that’s the neat thing that we have.  Yeah, we can go out and find bad guys and drugs, but for kids to come to their schools and meet a uniformed police officer, and you throw a dog into the picture, it’s really neat to see their faces light up and then the questions come and there’s no more being shy at all.”

Quwai was trained in Germany for the first three years of his life and then became an “official” K-9 officer for the Glendale Police Department (he wears a visible GPD officer’s shield on his collar). It was then he was assigned to Ofc. Hamilton who was thrilled to be with the elite K-9 unit.  They train once a week at a ranch in Ventura – Hamilton trains as a handler to be able to train Quwai which requires a yearly state certification.

These sessions also include weekly evaluations so working together as partners is an ongoing process. If a trainer sees something he doesn’t like, whether it’s the dog, the handler or the team, they will be pulled out immediately.

“You have to really have your dog locked on to come out here on the streets to do this work, so the quality control is through the roof to make sure the team is performing the way they should,” said Hamilton. “It’s a lot of pressure but it’s also a lot of fun.”

This team seems to have no problem getting along, during training and on and off the job. Quwai lives with Hamilton and they come home together, go to work together and he even takes his K-9 on vacation with him. Amazingly, Quwai knows the difference – he gets excited when they leave for work and winds down when they get home. The pair are inseparable friends.

The GPD K-9 unit is always looking for buildings and warehouses they can use for training purposes.

Any business owner or individual who would like more information on how to contribute can contact the K-9 department on its website at www.glendaleK9.com.