k-9 police dog with handler
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CSU K-9s: To Protect and Serve

Alisia Ruble

The CSU’s university police K-9 officers are working hard to keep campuses and students safe.

k-9 police dog with handler

Cal State Fullerton's University Police K-9, Glock, is trained to detect explosives and keep his campus and community safe. The CSU's university police officers and their K-9 partners conduct protective sweeps at university events such as commencements, concerts, games and more.  


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​As Matthew Bauer gets ready for work, his three dogs, a pug, a Chihuahua-dachshund mix and a Labrador retriever, lounge in their beds. But as Bauer pulls his police vest off the hanger, the Lab suddenly begins to thump his tail against the bed in anticipation.

“Glock, let's go," Bauer quietly commands. The black Lab immediately jumps to all fours, eager eyes on his owner, mouth open and panting and tail furiously wagging.

Bauer is a corporal for the Cal State Fullerton University Police and Glock is his K-9 partner. Today, the pair will conduct safety patrols of the campus and perhaps get a few moments to meet and greet students and staff during breaks. And, of course, play with the 3-year-old dog's favorite toy, a squeaky​ tennis ball.

Did we mention favorite? Actually, Glock lives for his toys. He's what dog trainers might describe as a toy-driven dog, which is a temperament that detection dogs must have in order to be successfully trained. That training begins at four to six weeks old and never stops. As puppies, they are introduced to basic scent training—sniffing out hidden toys scented or paired with a specific odor. As they progress, dogs can be trained to detect dozens of different scents, from fireworks to dynamite to explosive components.

Officer Bauer and his black Lab Glock, both in uniform.

Cal State Fullerton University Police Officer Matthew Bauer and K-9 Glock have been a team since October 2017. Follow Glock on Instagram to see him in action: @k9.glock​​.


​​Glock and other K-9 detection dogs across the CSU university police departments undergo continuous detection training and often obtain certifications through the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

There are more than half a dozen K-9 and handler university police teams working at campuses across the CSU and while they often act as university police ambassadors, their main task is to use their powerful noses to sweep campuses for any illegal devices or explosives.

When Glock sniffs the scent of an explosive residue, such as black powder, he will immediately indicate to his handler that he's found the scent.​ His reward is a chance to play with his toy.

Training isn't just for the canine officers, either. Handlers go through rigorous training to teach them how to handle the dogs, administer constant reinforcement and learn to pick up on the dogs' behaviors and cues. Canine and handler become so close, the handler can pick up on a slight difference in the dog's behavior that might not be obvious to the untrained eye.

police officer with k-9 police dog

CSU San Marcos University Police Officer David Angulo says his K-9 partner, Armor, loves string cheese as a treat, but also loves to eat leaves, which is a no-no. Follow his adventures on Instagram: @k9_Armor​. Photo courtesy of Lee Choo/CSUN


About 75 miles south at CSU San Marcos, K-9 Officer Armor is busy performing a training exercise to sniff with his handler/partner, University Policy Officer David Angulo. Armor, an 8-year-old German shepherd, is trained to detect 20 different scents. He and Angulo have been partners for over four years. “Throughout our years together, we've had the ability to meet many political dignitaries, actors and, at times, professional athletes. He has the ability to make anyone smile when they see him walking past."

Life for a K-9 officer on a college campus is different than that of a patrol K-9 officer with a city or state agency. When they're not in training or conducting sweeps for danger, CSU K-9 handlers make a point to engage with the campus community and invite students and employees to regularly interact with the dogs.

“Becoming a K-9 handler gave me the opportunity to engage with our communities and use our K-9 partners as ambassadors," Angulo says.

When K-9 officers are off-duty, they're just like any other dog—to a certain extent. "When the vest comes off, Glock knows it's play time," says Bauer. But come Monday morning, “he just can't wait to get in that patrol car. He's the only officer I know who's more excited for Monday than Saturday."