Jena, an 8-year-old German shepherd, is the first canine officer in the history of the Escondido Police Department to be promoted to the rank of detective.
According to U-T San Diego, Jena has served the department since 2010 as a top-notch police dog. She has found drugs on suspects at least 90 times and has assisted in more than 1,000 crime scenes.
Police Lt. Eric Skaja said Jena is the first police dog in the history of the department to achieve this ranking. While some may think the promotion to be slightly humorous, Skaja said having a highly trained police canine comes with real benefits.
He continued stating police dogs have very busy schedules as they are not always available when detectives want to solicit their assistance on a scene. “Canines train all the time, at least once a week,” Skaja said. “Can you imagine having one of your employees gone 25 percent of the time?”
Most often, police dogs retire after five or six years of service due to the demanding nature of their work. However, Jena is still enjoying her job with the department. She is specially trained in narcotics detection. This task is less physical and vigorous than patrol work so the promoted Jena will assist detectives by sniffing out drugs as her full-time assignment.
Since Jena has new priorities, she will be taken off patrols. She will be available to help her follow officers whenever needed. There will be several cases to keep her busy, according to Skaja.
Jena excels in the specialty of sniffing out drugs, which is a highly developed skill that requires intensive training. “She’s not our only drug dog, but she’s probably one of the most successful drug dogs we’ve had,” Skaja said.
Another contributing factor to Jena’s promotion is that her handler was promoted to detective as well. Now he can continue to work with her as his canine partner.
When Jena’s not busy sniffing out drugs, “she’s going to hang out,” Skaja said. “This is what she loves to do.”
U-T San Diego reported that Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter said in a statement he is thrilled Jena will continue to serve the department, but added that he that told her there were no current vacancies in his top brass.