On Tuesday, March 5, Officer Manuel Aguirre demonstrated explosive detection on the Pfau Library lawn area and shared his daily routine with his K-9, Vader.
Vader is a two year old Labrador Retriever and specializes in explosive detection with his partner Officer Aguirre. Vader had the opportunity to train with LAPD in the past and also interacts very well with other dogs. Officer Aguirre shared some insights on what it is like for him working for the police department and with his K-9.
Q: How long have you been a police officer in San Bernardino?
A: I’ve been a police officer for over 15 years, and I’ve been here on campus for a little over three years now.
Q: What made you want to become an officer?
A: It may sound cliche to say it but I do it to help people, definitely one of the reasons. My father was also a police officer. As a young kid I dealt with a lot of his partners and seeing what they did, I knew I wanted to do that.
Q: What do you deal with on the daily basis, your routine with Vader as well?
A: We work four days a week. In the morning, I get up and I’ll go the gym, I come out and I get him ready, and we get in the car and come to work. Most of the day is spent on campus, so in between going to different departments, walking through and making sure that everything is safe, we do a little bit of training. Everything I do with him is training, whether it is obedience or a little bit of detection work. Even walking through the student union is training because his nose is so acute that if somebody happens to bring something in there, he will be alert to it. Most of our days are spent traveling through campus.
Q: What would you say is your favorite thing about your job?
A: By far this K-9 unit program because of the bond that me and him have, it is definitely my favorite thing, having that companion every day, working with him and being able to enjoy his companionship. The work is training, but it’s fun.
Q: Is there anything difficult about your job?
A: Just the time. Sometimes I spend more time with my partner than I do with my family. It can be a bit consuming at times. I go from training, feeding him, grooming him, and doing more. Although, I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Q: In regards to staying safe on campus, what would you say are the best precautions to take?
A: I like to call it best practice, so just being aware of your surroundings at all times. It’s important to remember that just because it is a shorter way doesn’t always mean it is the safer way. Take a well lit area to get where you need to. Keep headphones out because the criminal is looking for an easy victim, so you don’t wanna make yourself an easy unaware victim. Make sure you are looking around and being aware. If your head is down looking at your phone then you cannot identify someone that may do wrong. Try not to make yourself an easy target.
Q: Why would you say this event is important?
A: It would be the relationship between law enforcement and students. Something that should be understood is that we are here to protect you. We are not here to target anybody. We want you to know that if you have a problem, you can come to us, whether it is something major or minor. Unfortunately, a lot of people fear police officers, and I want people to know that we are humans just like everyone else, we make mistakes, we cry, we bleed just like anyone else. I want people to understand that they can approach us. Also, a lot of people are dog owners and having Vader, more people find it easier to approach me because of my dog and say hello as opposed to when I don’t have him, people don’t. So having him makes it easier for the community to feel more comfortable to approach me is a good feeling.