Santa Clara Police K9 Maxx is extraordinary. On his first night as a member of the force in 2022, Maxx had his first big moment as a police dog: he apprehended a suspect. He has since worked tirelessly with his partner, Officer Cesar Rodriguez, to keep the streets of Santa Clara safe. On Aug. 12, Maxx showed what it takes to work as an SCPD K9 officer when he demonstrated his body control and apprehension abilities at San Jose’s Napredak Hall.
While Maxx impressed guests at the ninth annual Sean’s K9’s luau, he wasn’t the only dog to have its day. SCPD’s Ollie displayed his drug finding skills when he searched the crowd for the essence of an illegal substance that was planted under a chair.
Niner of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office sniffed out keys thrown into the grass.
Campbell Police Department’s Koa attacked a suspect, and Koa’s colleague Morgan showed why therapy dogs also have an important job on the force.
Each K9 at the luau was hand selected and they, as well as their handlers, went through rigorous training to get their jobs. The police dogs at the event also had one more thing in common: they were made possible through grants funded by the Sean M. Walsh K9 Memorial Foundation.
Since 2012, when the foundation wrote its first grant for the purchase of SCPD’s Argo, Sean’s K9s has provided 39 grants to departments across the country. Grants are written based on need and used to assist in the purchase, training or equipment needed to maintain a K9 unit.
Without Sean’s K9s, many departments would not have the ability to keep or grow their K9 crews. However, founder Cheryl Walsh doesn’t simply write grants and remove herself from the equation. Every dog and their handler become a member of Walsh’s family and, in a way, an ambassador for the organization.
Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Jeremy Jones was a recipient of one of the foundation’s grants, which purchased his former partner, Raider, in 2014. Although Raider retired in 2019, Jones continues to be an ardent supporter of Walsh’s work and recently became a board member.
“This is a family,” said Jones. “Cheryl is like my kids’ aunt. I wanted to join the board because I see how valuable it is.”
Jones said he plans on expanding the organization’s fundraising to include a silent auction and bocce tournament in the spring that will pit police department against police department for bragging rights.
Additionally, in his short time on the board, Jones was instrumental in coordinating this year’s K9 demonstrations and implementing the Sean’s K9’s Handler of the Year Award.
The award, which came with a plaque and 9mm Glock courtesy of LC Action, went to Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Tyrone Monroe. Monroe, said Jones, was chosen for his dedication to the organization and Niner’s record of service which includes 37 apprehensions and over 500 community service hours. Within his community service, Niner has participated in K9s Against Bullying, an outreach effort to curb bullying in Santa Clara County schools.
“[Sean’s K9s] has been tremendous to the K9 community,” said Monroe. “You’ve touched so many lives. You’ve saved so many lives through this foundation…I’m truly honored to be part of this family.”
The foundation’s namesake, Sean Walsh, had dreams of joining the police force – specifically the Santa Clara Police Department – and becoming a K9 handler, but needed to wait until he became the minimum required age (21) to serve on the force. To obtain experience, he enlisted in the National Guard and served as a military police officer in Afghanistan, where he was killed in action on Nov. 16, 2011.
To honor his memory and help others achieve their K9 handler dreams, his mother, Cheryl Walsh, created the Sean M. Walsh K9 Memorial Foundation with the goal of writing grants to assist police departments in the purchase and training of police K9s. The foundation serves as the nonprofit partner for SCPD and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department and celebrates with its annual Hawaiian-themed fundraiser on the second Saturday in August to coincide with Sean Walsh’s Aug. 8 birthday.
For more information, including how to donate or get involved, visit, www.seansK9s.org.