'Hero' K-9 Stabbed in the Line of Duty Applauded on His Retirement

A “hero” police K-9 was given a warm sendoff on Wednesday, September 14, as he retired from the El Cajon Police Department.

Jester, who was part of the El Cajon K-9 unit for the past seven years, responded to more than 1,000 radio calls, conducted 465 building searches, and assisted with 197 arrests during his time, according to the police department.

Jester had a heroic moment earlier this year when he refused to let go of a suspect despite being stabbed in the throat, and ultimately his dedication meant the police were able to arrest the suspect. Jester was treated for his life-threatening injury at the Pet Emergency and Specialty Center and was back on duty three weeks later.

Mayor Bill Wells declared the day of Jester’s retirement as Jester the Hero K-9 Dog Day. The dedicated K-9 received a huge round of applause for his service. Credit: El Cajon Police Department via Storyful

Video transcript

- We're grateful to say he's fully recovered, and he's back at it. But after serving the police department and the community for seven years, and that's dog years, so that's a lot of people years, we think he deserves some R&R. So we're going to have him retire. And I'm going to have Sergeant Mike Murphy from the K-9 Unit and Jester's handler, Officer Randall Gray come up and tell you a little bit about Jester.

MIKE MURPHY: Mayor, council members, citizens. The El Cajon Police Canine Unit is the oldest in the County of San Diego, starting in the 1950s. Since that time, the K-9 Unit has changed. But one thing has remained constant. Canines have kept the officers of the El Cajon Police Department as well as the citizens safe by assisting patrols and daily functions.

These canines are used to de-escalate situations by searching for dangerous wanted subjects who may be hiding in buildings, residence, or brush. And they are used to conduct narcotics searches.

Police service dog, Jester, a Belgian Mountain dog, was two years old when be purchased via grant through the Ben Wofford Foundation in 2015. He began his service to the city of El Cajon in March of 2016, after graduating from [INAUDIBLE] Canine Academy.

For seven years, Jester served the City of El Cajon, keeping the citizens and the officers safe, answering over 1,000 radio calls. Jester conducted 465 building searches, 121 high-risk stops, 16 search warrants, and 45 narcotics searches.

Not only did Jester assist the City of El Cajon, he answered 45 outside agency calls as well. As a result of those calls, he assisted with 197 arrests, where subjects were taken into custody, resulting in officers and the subjects remaining safe.

On June 1, 2022, at approximately 5:16 PM, an El Cajon police officer was flagged down by a citizen, who said he saw a male subject slashing car tires in the 200 block of Roanoke Avenue. The officer quickly located the subject and could see he was armed with a knife.

The officer followed the subject and requested additional officers, to include a K-9 to the area. Officer Gray, with K-9 Jester responded to the scene. The suspect, still armed with a knife, charged at an officer before running toward a high school. The subject refused to stop, and officers used less lethal projectiles, which hit the subject but were ineffective.

The suspect entered the high school, still armed with the knife. Therefore, Officer Gray deployed his partner, Jester, to apprehend the subject. A struggle ensued, and the suspect stabbed Jester in the throat.

Despite being stabbed and the suspect actively punching Jester, he did not waver but remained in control of the suspect until officers were able to safely approach the suspect and place him into custody. Jester was then transported to the Pet Emergency and Specialty Center, where he was treated for life-threatening stab wounds. Jester recovered and returned to full duty three weeks later.

This is just one example of the many times Jester has kept the officers and the citizens of El Cajon safe by putting his life on the line. Please join me in congratulating search dog Jester on his seven years of service and his dedication to the city of El Cajon and his well-earned retirement.

[APPLAUSE AND CHEERS]

BILL WELLS: So we have a couple of questions. And we'd like to come down and say hi to Jester. First off, how is he doing? How is his recovery? It looks like he's doing OK.

RANDALL GRAY: He's doing great, sir. Thank you.

BILL WELLS: And where is he going to be going?

RANDALL GRAY: He's going to be staying with me. He's going to be a glorified house dog now. He's worked very hard for a long time. And I think that he deserves it so he's just going to stay on the sofa.

[LAUGHTER]

BILL WELLS: That's good. Would it be OK with you now to have him come and shake our hands?

RANDALL GRAY: Yeah. He's very social. You guys can come down.

[AUDIENCE CHATTER]

BILL WELLS: Well, we have a proclamation for Jester. Chief, everyone in [INAUDIBLE] right now. And the proclamation is really in honor of his service that he's given to the City of El Cajon and acknowledgment that he's a worldwide celebrity. All the people or all the officers that we have, he is the most famous. Do you think that's true?

RANDALL GRAY: Yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

BILL WELLS: But he retired [INAUDIBLE] cameras. And we want to take today and make it Jester, the Hero K-9 Dog Day [INAUDIBLE].

[APPLAUSE AND CHEERS]

Look at all this. All right. Well, congratulations, Jester, and enjoy your retirement. What part of the county you live in?

RANDALL GRAY: Chula Vista.

BILL WELLS: All right. Enjoy life in Chula Vista. And bring him back to visit sometimes. Thank you.

RANDALL GRAY: Thank you, sir.

- Thank you.

- Thank you.

- Now you got to do introductions.

[CROWD CHATTER]