The new canine recruit at the El Cerrito police department, Koda, approaches his job with a different temperament than his predecessor, King.
"He's quieter than King," said Officer Joshua Del Prado, the handler for Koda and former handler for King, who died unexpectedly from an intestinal ailment on February 10.
"He's very easy going, very calm," said Del Prado.
Two-year-old K-9 Officer Koda has kept a low-profile so far. Some citizens recently learned about him from a small footnote in the police departmet's 2011 Annual Report, published quietly last month.
Koda joined the department March 9 but immediately went into training, Del Prado said. This week marks his third week on active duty, but next week he goes off again for five weeks of narcotics training.
He's a Czech German shepherd from Belgium, and this is his first police job, according to Del Prado. King, a German shepherd from Germany, also was two years old and on his first police assignment when he joined El Cerrito police in the fall of 2010.
One contribution that Koda has already made to the department is an opportunity for Del Prado to expand his linguistic skills.
To issue commands to King, Del Prado had to use German, the language that King was trained in. For Koda, he said, he had to learn "a little bit of Dutch."
Del Prado selected Koda as the best fit for El Cerrito from among several candidate dogs that had been screened by a police-dog search service, and when it came time for Koda's certification, the agency found that it was an excellent match, according to El Cerrito Police Chief Sylvia Moir.
"It was the easiest and fastest certification they've ever done," Moir said.
The El Cerrito Police Employees’ Association has raised funds for the department's canine program through its annual crab feed in January.