At about 21 months old, the 's newest member of the K-9 unit, Blitz, is "just a big ol' puppy," according to his handler, Officer Dan Richey.
Richey, a second-generation and 17-year veteran of the Redondo police force, has spent the last five years as a training officer. Before that, he was a member of the SWAT unit. Though he wanted to be part of the K-9 unit for "most of (his) career," the timing was never right.
When K-9 handler retired, however, a spot opened up in the K-9 unit. Richey's three children—ages 3, 6 and 8—are all in preschool or school for at least some time during the week, and after much discussion with his wife, he decided to apply for the open spot.
"It's got to be something you really want to do," Richey said.
And Blitz, who arrived in January, gets along well with the family, including the Richeys' other dog.
"They love him," Richey said of Blitz, a Hungarian-born shepherd. "They love to pet him."
Two weeks after Blitz moved in with Richey, the pair started school with Greenleaf. Because there were only two people in the class—and Greenleaf selected both dogs—the pair covered narcotics training in addition to the basic education. Blitz has been taught to find cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin, Richey said.
"Now it's just a matter of improving upon those skills," he said. "We have a long way to go—both of us."
Finding illegal drugs and taking down suspects aren't Blitz and Richey's only jobs. Members of the K-9 unit serve as ambassadors for the Police Department. "People are constantly asking you questions," Richey said. "There's definitely a lot more interaction."
The public has been very supportive of the program, and Blitz seems to like the attention, Richey said. "He's super-friendly."
Being a K-9 officer is a 24/7 job, according to Richey.
"There's no down time," he said, adding that when they're not out on patrol or calls, they spend their time training. "You always have to consider your dog in your daily routine as police work."
So why "Blitz"? Richey said he wanted a one- or two-syllable German name for the new dog.
"Blitz—it means 'flash' or 'lightning,'" he explained. "It's kind of a cool name."