Susanville Police Officer Michael Hoover poses with the department’s new K-9 officer, Zeke. Photo by Makenzie Davis

K-9 Zeke joins the Susanville Police Department team

The Susanville Police Department may not be able to issue its most recent recruit the normal uniform, but he’s part of the team nonetheless.

Zeke, a 3-year-old malinois, is the new K-9 officer for the local department. He made his debut with his handler, officer Michael Hoover, last week and is ready for patrol.

“He shows great promise and I have all the faith in the world in him,” Hoover said of his new partner. “We have to trust each other to be a good team.”

The Susanville Chief of Police Kevin Jones is also excited for the new officer and is grateful to the community for its support.

“We are humbled and pleased with the outpouring of support for our K-9 program. Zeke would not be with us if not for this incredible community that has supported us.” I am personally excited to bring back a program that first began when I was an officer here and reincarnate it 25 years later,” said Jones. “We are expecting great things from this program in both enforcement and community relations.”

In order to prepare for Zeke’s introduction to the force, the duo spent six weeks in San Bernardino partaking in extensive, mentally draining training, which involved many technical aspects.

By the end, Hoover said, he felt very accomplished.

“During training, there were ups and downs. Then you have your days when everything clicks and everything works out,” Hoover said.

The pair bonded during their training, which began June 17, and they will work together and live together — which is great for Hoover since it combines two of his passions.

“I’ve always enjoyed training dogs for hunting and I love police work,” Hoover said. “This blends the two together.”

The road to getting Zeke for the Susanville Police Department was a long journey, full of fundraising and overwhelming community support.

About $33,000 was raised for the new K-9 officer, through community donations, car washes, gun raffles through the cooperation with the Susan River Fire Protection District, taco feeds, and donations from local businesses, like Susanville Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram who donated $100 for every car sold – about $9,300.

Milwood Florist and Treats Pet Supply helps feed Zeke — along with the two K-9 officers at the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office. Fundraising began in 2016.

The donations helped cover the cost of Zeke, his training, equipment for the patrol vehicle and training aids.

While Zeke is a brand new addition, he already has training in narcotic detection, protecting Hoover and others from assailants, and Hoover hopes Zeke will act as a deterrent to anyone who might try attacking others.

So far, Zeke has even already helped officers on various calls.

On Sunday, Aug. 18, Susanville Police Department officers conducted a traffic strop in Susanville on a vehicle with expired registration. Zeke was present, and during the stop he conducted an exterior sniff of the vehicle and showed a positive alert indicating he was alerted to some type of narcotic, according to a statement from the Susanville Police Department.

Officers searched the vehicle and found methamphetamine and paraphernalia consistent with use of controlled substance and further investigation revealed the driver was allegedly in possession of methamphetamine and was in possession credit and bank cards of individuals not in the car and who the driver didn’t know.

The driver, Raymond Johnson, 22, of Susanville, was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and investigation of stolen property. The investigation into his possession of the cards is ongoing.

“This is Zeke’s second week on patrol and his first (of many to come) impacts on the criminal element in our community,” read the statement. “Great job to both officers Avilla, Hoover and Zeke.”

“He’s a huge addition in aiding us,” Hoover said.