Photos by Stephanie Perez.
Dozens of police dogs and their handlers from throughout the Southland stood in the sweltering heat in Long Beach Wednesday afternoon to join dozens more in remembering Long Beach K-9 Officer Credo, who was killed by friendly fire last month, while attempting to restrain a shooting suspect.
The memorial service, held at the Long Beach Police Department’s (LBPD) academy, brought together K-9 units from police agencies as far away as the city of Corona and as near as Downey to pay their respects to the canine officer.
“Some may argue that a police K-9 is just a tool, but please understand, to Mike, his wife Lisa and their children Justin and Ryan, Credo was a part of your family and we are here today to share in your pain and in your loss,” LBPD Chief Robert Luna said during the ceremony. “Although we will miss Credo, I want you to know that Credo did not retreat in the face of danger. He performed his duty with courage and honor. Credo will be remembered as a hero.”
Credo was killed by friendly fire on June 28, when he was sent out to restrain a knife-wielding, suspected gang member linked to the shooting of multiple people in Long Beach in 2014, officials said.
As the suspect “aggressively charged” at the officers, Credo attempted to pull him away, Luna recounted to the crowd of more than 50 people.
“The suspect produced a knife and continued to quickly advance toward the officers, utilizing Credo, who was hanging on the suspect’s left arm, as a shield,” Luna said. “In fear for his safety and the safety of his fellow officers, one of the officers discharged his weapon, striking both the suspect and Credo.”
Both Credo and the suspect later died at local hospitals.
Steve Ditmars, former K-9 handler and president of the Long Beach K-9 Officers Association, announced that since the incident the department’s K-9 unit is scheduled to receive eight custom-fitted ballistic, tactical vests for K-9 partners at a cost of $30,000. A new K-9 will also be purchased for Credo’s former handler Mike Parcells—when he is ready to accept one, Ditmars said.
“As someone who spent six years as a police service dog handler, I understand the bond between the handler and their K-9,” Ditmars said. “You spend many long hours training and patrolling and then when you finally get home your partner is still with you. The truth is you spend more time with your dog than you do your family. For this, you are rewarded with a loving, dedicated partner. The eyes say it all and they say 'let's go to work, dad.'”
Officials thanked the public for their donations and the heartfelt condolences expressed throughout the country.
The service ended with a procession to the K-9 Cemetery, where Credo’s headstone was placed alongside the dozens of other canine officers who gave their life for the community.
Click here to make a donation to the Long Beach K9 Officers Association.