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When 10-year-old Rogelio Daniel Ramirez was assigned a school project to write an essay about his favorite person, he knew exactly who would be featured in the article: Las Cruces Police Department K-9 officer Juan Gomez and his four-legged partner, Joker.
In July 2020, when customary birthday parties for 10-year-olds were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rogelio received a visit from K-9 officer Gomez, Joker and three other LCPD officers who surprised the young boy for an impromptu birthday celebration. Rogelio, or “RJ” as he is referred to by family, and Gomez really hit it off and became quick friends.
Fast forward to February 2021 and a school project for Rogelio at MacArthur Elementary. Rogelio was asked to write an essay on his favorite person – outside of his family – so he chose to pen a story about officer Gomez and his K-9 partner Joker, a Belgian Malinois. Rogelio’s mother, Isabel Ramirez, wrote to the Las Cruces Police Department the next day to share her son’s story.
“Hello. I just wanted to share an essay my 10-year-old son wrote about officer Juan Gomez,” Isabel wrote. “When my son was told to write about his favorite person he immediately thought of his birthday and officer Gomez.
“Please let your officers know that during those tough moments they must remember there are still people who care about them and respect them,” Isabel continued. “We appreciate everything your department does for our city.”
“My favorite person outside of my family is a K9 police officer named Juan Gomez. I met officer Gomez on my birthday when him and his K9 partner Joker visited me at home. Him and Joker work every day to keep our city safe. Being a police officer is not an easy job and requires so much courage. Officer Gomez has helped train Joker to be a great K9 police officer. They go everywhere together. I really like how much loyalty officer Gomez has for his fellow police officers. He is always there when his help is needed. I think he is awesome because he risks his life every day for the safety of others. And he still has time to teach Joker cool tricks. Joker is a very nice pup but don't be fooled if you are a bad guy he will sniff you right out. Joker is very protective of his partner. I think it is really awesome that these partners work together and still go home together. They are more like family. Maybe one day I will be a K9 police officer.”
K-9 officer Gomez is a native of Las Cruces and a graduate of Onate High School. He’s a 16-year veteran of the Las Cruces Police Department and has been a K-9 officer for 12 years. He and Joker have been partners since 2015.
The Las Cruces Police Department’s K-9 Unit has six officer-partner teams.