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Charlie and Team Give Mrak the ‘All Clear’

By Dave Jones on March 8, 2017 in University
Officer Vincent Kwong and Charlie K-9
Officer Vincent Kwong and Charlie outside Mark Hall after completing their assignment. (Cody Kitaura/UC Davis)

Mrak Hall was evacuated at midafternoon Tuesday (March 7) as the Yolo County Bomb Squad hot-footed it inside. Some of the team members went to the basement (where they ultimately determined a suspicious object was not dangerous), while Charlie went to the top floor.

Charlie is the UC Davis Police Department’s K-9 officer, whose specialty is explosives detection. He and his partner, officer Vincent Kwong, work for the campus Police Department but they are also attached to the county bomb squad.

“He did his job well,” Kwong said after emerging from Mrak Hall around 5 p.m. “We started on the fifth floor and worked our way down.” They searched the building because, while they knew there was a suspicious object in the basement, they wanted to make sure nothing else suspicious had been planted in the building.

They didn’t find anything. Meanwhile, in the men’s restroom in the basement, the bomb squad investigated a brown lunch bag that had been stuffed into a toilet paper dispenser — and concluded that the bag was just a bag, holding the remnants of someone's lunch. The bag had been twisted closed at the opening before being shoved into the dispenser.

The incident began when campus police received a report about the suspicious object at about 3:40 p.m. Officers raced to the scene, and so did the Fire Department — sending an engine and aerial truck. City of Davis firefighters also responded.

The Police Department sent a WarnMe message at about 4 p.m., telling the campus community that a suspicious object had been found but adding that “no credible threat had been determined.” Still, the bomb squad had not completed its investigation, so the evacuation order remained in place. The WarnMe message directed people in neighboring buildings (including King Hall) to shelter in place.

The “all clear” came in a WarnMe message at about 5:30 p.m.

Afterward, in front of Mrak Hall, Charlie jumped up and down, hoping to get his paws on his favorite toy, in this case a squeaky toy stuffed in one of Kwong’s pockets.

As excited as Charlie was for his toy, Kwong said the dog was all business in Mrak Hall – when given the search command. “That’s what he’s trained to do,” Kwong said.

Charlie joined the department in 2015. He’s a Labrador-border collie mix, age 5 1/2 now, who came from El Dorado County’s Labs 2 Love Rescue.

He’s become quite a favorite among students and staff, who frequently take selfies with Charlie. “Since he’s not an apprehension dog — he’s solely an explosives detection dog — he’s very approachable,” Kwong told Dateline UC Davis for an article in 2015.

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