BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — April 27 is one year since Bakersfield Police Department K9 Officer Jango died in the line of duty. The agency honored his life and impact on our community on Wednesday.
This statue of Jango sits alongside the memorial for fallen officers in front of the Bakersfield Police Department.
The statue stresses the importance of K9’s in the police force and was made possible from donations collected by the community. Wednesday local businesses and community members did even more to show their appreciation.
“We’re still thinking about him, we think about him every day. We definitely appreciate his sacrifice,” said Jennifer Mebane, Cornerstone Bakery Owner.
Many Bakersfield businesses and community members say one year later, they haven’t forgotten about the day the Bakersfield Police Department and Officer Mueller lost a partner.
“Every time anybody in our law enforcement community suffers a loss, it’s a loss to our community. K9s are a big part of what goes on in this town to protect us and we appreciate the officers and the families and those dogs are part of the family,” said Jeff Salters, Saltys BBQ and Catering Owner.
Jango and Officer Brock Mueller worked together for four years before their partnership was cut short when Jango was shot and killed while attempting to catch a suspect in a southeast Bakersfield neighborhood.
“There is no doubt in the mind of the handler and the officers that were present that Jango ultimately saved his partners life during that specific incident,” said Robert Pair, BPD PIO.
Mebane said her business, along with others, shared their appreciation to Jango’s family.
“We donated a dozen cupcakes with Jango’s picture on it to the family.”
Saltys Barbecue donated lunch while other businesses like Sign-Gypsie’s put up a yard sign that said ‘remembering K9 Jango’, Elite 911 Industries made stickers, and Uniquely Chic Florist and Boutique donated flowers to Jango’s family.
“Just to be able to say, ‘hey officer we do care for you’ and that ‘this town is a supporter of what you’re doing’.”
Bakersfield Police Department Sergeant Robert Pair said the community has continued to show they care. “We have body armor for K9’s as a result of community donations.”
They say donations are also the reason this statue of Jango stands tall outside of BPD: “It’s not just for Jango, even though that is the emphasis, but it’s also to stress the value and importance of K9s in police work and its right next to fallen officers.”
Pair said the police department and community will also honor Jango during police memorial week which begins May 11.