Officer (Dog) Down: Tribute to a Canine in Blue

July has seen a horrifying spike in the number of law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our communities.

But, humans are not the only ones to lay it all on the line.

In a tear-filled ceremony last Wednesday at Long Beach Police Officers Association Park, hundreds of people said goodbye to Credo, a four-year-old Belgian Malinois, who was fatally wounded on June 28th during a police shootout with a man wanted for assault with a deadly weapon. Local residents and regional officers with their canine partners attended the tribute which included the laying of a monument to Credo’s service.

Credo worked patrol and narcotics beats with his human partner and handler, Officer Mike Parcells. To the 22-year veteran of the LBPD, Credo was more than a trusted colleague; he was a loyal friend and faithful family member. During his service, Credo assisted in more than 30 arrests.

For his last heroic act, Credo reportedly charged a knife-wielding suspect who then corralled him and used him as a canine shield while firing upon officers. Officers returned fire, killing the suspect and mortally-wounding Credo. A grief-stricken Parcells scooped up his four-legged partner, piled him into a patrol car and rushed him to Signal Hill Veterinary Hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Later that day, a line of officers outside the hospital saluted as Credo was led past them on a gurney draped in an American flag.

Credo was the second LBPD canine to die in the line of duty. In 2005, Ranger, another four-year-old Belgian Malinois, was killed in a shootout with a gang banger. Ironically, Officer Parcells was Ranger’s partner and handler as well.

Donations of almost $30,000 in Credo’s name have poured in to the LBPD. The money will pay for eight cutting-edge ballistic dog vests that are lighter weight and cooler than standard vests.

An estimated 50,000 police dogs are currently in service in the United States. Credo is one of dozens of K-9s who die in the line of duty each year. The Officer Down Memorial Page is developing a web page dedicated to fallen K-9s through history.

Police officers come in a rainbow of colors - and of different species. The overwhelming majority of them are watching out for us.

Whether on two legs or four the blood of those in blue runs as red as ours.