The City of Perris welcomed the newest addition to the police force this week—a two-and-a-half-year-old, 78-pound Belgian Malinois named Rex.
Rex becomes the City’s first canine cop in the 22 years since the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department replaced the Perris Police Department to provide law-enforcement services to the City.
Rex and his handler—Perris Police Officer James Ray—were introduced March 13 during the Perris City Council meeting.
Ray said Rex was trained in Holland and arrived in Perris in January.
For the last several weeks, he and the canine have trained side-by-side as they get to know one another. They completed basic training this week and will hit the streets of Perris in April after wrapping up additional field work.
Rex has been trained to protect Ray should he encounter a dangerous suspect while on duty, to sniff out weapons and other evidence in criminal investigations and to track down suspects. He eventually will be trained as a drug-detection dog.
The pair went through their paces at a recent demonstration at Perris High School, searching for and finding hidden articles around the campus.
“He’s very friendly and he likes people,” Ray said. “He’s got a high-play drive.”
Many law-enforcement agencies use Malinois because they are smart, loyal and possess a keen sense of their surroundings. Like other Malinois, Rex responds to commands given in Dutch.
Perris Police Chief Greg Fellows said he’s pleased to have a four-legged cop patrolling City streets.
Fellows was on hand Tuesday when Rex and Ray were photographed with Perris Mayor Michael Vargas, Mayor Pro-Tem Malcolm Corona and City Councilmembers Tonya Burke, David Starr Rabb and Rita Rogers.
“The canine acts in a significant support role for our Perris Police Officers,” Fellows said. “He is a force multiplier that improves officer and public safety in many instances. For example, the dog is able to search large areas such as large buildings with poor lighting conditions in a shorter timeframe than officers alone. He can also apprehend violent suspects hiding in areas too difficult or unsafe for an officer to reach.”
Fellows said Rex can also be called in to assist in missing person cases and narcotics investigations. And residents who attend community events like the annual Health Fair and National Night Out programs can expect to see Rex and Ray there too.