First female K-9 joins San Bernardino Police Department

Photo John Echevarria: K-9 Bella, born in the Netherlands, uncovering illegal drugs and recovering funds in a stop, on the night of her graduation.
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A three-year-old Belgian Malinois named Bella was welcomed into the San Bernardino Police Department on June 1.

“Bella began a 3-week training program on June 1 and on June 19 she graduated and immediately went into the field,” said Sergeant John Echevarria, San Bernardino Police Department.

Bella’s first evening on the job was met with much excitement as she assisted in a stop where she immediately located cocaine and recovered funds.

“In the three-week training program K-9 Bella and her handler completed the state-required 120 hours narcotic detection training course, participated in exercises where she was introduced to scents and odors such as cocaine, meth, heroine, and marijuana. In the exercises, we will hide the scents in a building or a vehicle, she’ll then run the entire obstacle, she alerts her handler when she locates the drugs and then she’s rewarded,” continued Echevarria.

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Bella is the first female K-9 the department has ever purchased and Echevarria shared that agencies tend to purchase males due to cost.

“The primary reason why agencies do not purchase female K-9’s as often as male K-9’s is due to cost. The cost associated with females and breeding is much higher than that of males. But nonetheless, we’re grateful to have Bella join the team,” Echevarria said.

Aside from enjoying spending time with her handler and family, Bella is on call 24/7 and typically works a full 40-hour work week.

“Bella is going to solely be a part of the narcotics detection team. I’m confident that she will be a great asset to our department and a huge benefit to our community,” concluded Echevarria. The San Bernardino Police K-9 Unit is funded entirely by private donations. If you would like to contribute to the unit, please visit the San Bernardino Police Foundation website for further details at or by email at

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