BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Friday morning, the Bakersfield Police Department held a memorial service for K-9 officer, Jango, who died in the line of duty last month.
You could feel the emotion in the center. Even those who may have not known Jango personally could see how much he meant to not only his K-9 handler, officer Brock Mueller, but his entire K-9 unit and family.
“Jango, a man’s best friend, a hero, and a warrior,” said Mueller.
Bakersfield police officer Brock Mueller said goodbye to his K-9 partner, Jango after four years of working side-by-side. The K-9 handler says the Belgian malinois helped him become a better officer, husband, friend, and father.
At Jango’s memorial service at Mechanics Bank Arena Friday morning, Mueller said it was hard for him not to relive April 27, Jango was shot multiple times by a suspect BPD was trying to track down in a southeast Bakersfield neighborhood.
"He did this to give me a chance. He saved me. There’s no doubt in my mind Jango saved my life. He gave me the opportunity to come home to my family. I thank him for his sacrifice.”
Bakersfield Police Chief, Greg Terry noted that in 2020 alone, there were 21 K-9 line-of-duty deaths in the United States and highlighted the importance of honoring those who laid down their lives for their partners and community.
“Police K-9s embody strength, courage, and a bold spirit. When they show up for work you see their joy, their eagerness. They are more than just partners. They enhance the safety of the officer in our community. They are more than a tool to find a missing or endangered person. They’re family," said Terry.
The memorial ended in prayer and BPD's K-9 unit saluting their late K-9 comrade one last time. BPD says Jango served the Bakersfield community in suspect apprehension and explosive material detection.
“Brock and Katie, I realize that your time with Jango was cut extremely short, and I’m so sorry for that. I know there’s nothing anyone can say that can fill the void you guys feel. No amount of gifts that can make the pain go away. We all hurt with you, and we are family so as a family we will always stand by you,” said officer Edgar Galdamez of the BPD K-9 unit.
Officer Mueller also said Jango meant so much to his family. Even though he says Jango was serious and hard working on the job, he was quite goofy and affectionate at home. There was one particular video montage at the conclusion of service of him playing with a baby that was so heartwarming.