Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Top dog on San Bernardino

Photo: Officer Estrada and K-9 Diva pose with awards.
Officer Michele Estrada and K-9 Diva won Top Dog at the Murrieta, Calif., K-9 Trials. Forest Service photo.


— USDA Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations Officer Michele Estrada and K-9 Diva won “Top Dog” at the Law Enforcement/Military K-9 Trials, hosted by the Murrieta, California, Police Department April 6–7. The event featured Law Enforcement and Military K-9 units from throughout southern California. Day one included narcotics and explosives detection, as well as evidence search, while day two was made up of less harrowing trials.

Members of the public were invited to observe as K-9 teams participated in the second day’s events. Teams competed in area and building searches, where the K-9s noses were tested as they sought people hidden in various locations. Obedience and agility courses were designed to test the teamwork that is essential between the K-9s and their handlers, and the patrol work event set teams on true-to-life scenarios where the officers set their K-9s to apprehend decoys in bite suits.

Law Enforcement and Investigations K-9 teams play an important role in the agency and are a proven law enforcement tool that can save time and resources. The K-9’s acute sense of smell joined with their speed and agility can help locate people or objects much sooner than people. In risky situations, K-9s can subdue a suspect without risk of injury to officers or bystanders, and the mere presence of K-9 officers can de-escalate situations, leading to the peaceful apprehension of a suspect.

Officer Estrada and Diva are stationed on the San Bernardino National Forest, Mountain Top Ranger District. Their skill and knowledge are used across the nation — they have attended assignments at the National Rainbow Gathering and the Bureau of Land Management’s Burning Man event. The skills demonstrated in the competition are often utilized during their day-to-day work.

In total, there were 48 K-9 teams in the competition. Officer Estrada’s and K-9 Diva’s skill and experience paid off when they received first place overall. Congratulations to this top dog and its partner.