There is a new sheriff’s deputy in town and his name is Kuma.
A three-year-old Dutch Shepherd, Kuma the police dog, along with his handler and partner Deputy Michael Victorino, are now patrolling the Riverbank community. The duo has been together since July and prior to hitting the streets they had some time to bond.
“From the get go he was very friendly,” explained Victorino. “We hit it off real fast.”
As a youngster growing up with an uncle who was a K9 handler for the Modesto Police Department, Victorino knew that was something that he wanted to do. Prior to becoming a K9 handler he was an agitator for the Sheriff Department’s K9 units. The agitator is the decoy during training that simulates the ‘bad guy’ in training scenarios. In March 2014, Victorino joined Riverbank Police Services and a few months ago was assigned to the K9 unit.
Kuma has been trained in the Netherlands and was brought to California by an agency in Southern California that specializes in K9’s for law enforcement. Not only did Kuma and Victorino bond but they also trained together to solidify the team that will protect and serve.
“They train for dog shows over there which is a lot different than our dog shows here,” said Victorino. “They train to show how their dogs can find bad guys, obedience, protection, pretty much everything we utilize them here for law enforcement.”
Riverbank Police Services has not always had K9’s; however, six years ago they brought them back perceiving that they are an asset to the community and department.
“There had been K9’s previously with Riverbank Police Department and felt it was an excellent resource to be brought back,” stated K9 Supervisor Sergeant Kevin Davis.
Victorino and his partner Kuma made an appearance at Riverbank Language Academy to promote child safety. Kuma was a hit with the kids and did really well with all the attention, said Victorino.