Tulare names dog park after fallen K9 officer

The city of Tulare honors fallen K9 Officer Bane who was shot on duty, adds a memorial for influential community member Jennifer McCoun

TULARE – As the city of Tulare takes steps in building their first ever dog park, they have taken the opportunity to remember those who had major impacts on the community.

At the March 21 Tulare City Council meeting, council members agreed on K9 Bane Park as the name for the future dog park. K9 Bane was a police dog shot in the line of duty several years ago and this park will keep his memory alive. Tulare Police Chief Fred Ynclan said naming the park after Bane was a good gesture. There will also be a memorial to honor Jennifer McCoun, who was an influential woman in Tulare with a passion for animals. The idea for the name of the park was first brought to council by retired Tulare Police Lieutenant and now councilman, Stephen Harrell.

“I think that was a great idea and [Harrell] has always kept us in mind and always been part of our department even in his retirement,” Ynclan said. “It was a good gesture and I’m glad he didn’t forget.”

The park will be located at the 400 block of N Street in Tulare on a piece of city-owned property that is a little over one acre. The council has previously authorized $466,000 from the Regional Park Development Fee fund for design and construction of the park. There is currently no design for the park yet, but the city has retained a landscape architect who is preparing a conceptual layout, according to deputy city manager Josh McDonnell.

As for the name of the park, Bane was a new dog to the department. According to Ynclan he had graduated the weekend prior to the attack and been on only a few rides. On Dec. 9, 2019, Tulare Police Department attempted a traffic stop on a suspicious vehicle. When the suspect refused to stop, a pursuit ensued where the suspect’s car then got stuck in a mudded area. As the suspect refused to stop, that instituted a felony evading charge allowing officers to further investigate.

When the suspect refused to get out of their car, Bane entered the vehicle on the driver’s side through a broken window. Officers were not aware the suspect was armed and Bane was shot multiple times, dying instantly. The suspect also fired shots at Bane’s partner and handler Officer Ryan Garcia. He was shot in the hand and his chest, which was stopped by his ballistic vest according to Ynclan. Officers returned gunfire and the suspect was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Ynclan said Garcia had to have several surgeries on his hand and ultimately had to medically retire. He had been with the department as a patrol officer since 2012 and became a K9 handler in 2019, with Bane being his first partner, according to Ynclan.

Ynclan said he was a K9 handler for five years earlier in his career and there have been several other handlers throughout the department over the years. Tulare’s K9 program started in 2000 and the department typically has four dogs in service at all times. Ynclan said the death of Bane weighed heavily on the entire department.

Everybody felt like … you lost your dog partner,” Ynclan said.

Despite the tragedy, Ynclan said the outreach from the community after Bane’s death was unbelievable and they even held a funeral. Naming Tulare’s dog park after the fallen K9 officer is a tremendous way to honor him.

“We’ve had officers shot in the line of duty before, but the death of the dog was something that we had never dealt with,” Ynclan said.

An additional honoree in the park will be McCoun. It is still to be determined what type of memorial will be used to honor her in the park. The council has discussed a bench, a gazebo or some type of shaded feature, but that will be brought back for council consideration. McCoun was the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce and was also a member of the Tulare Noon Rotary Club at the time of her death in 2009.  According to one of her closest friends Jennifer Pinheiro, McCoun had an incredible soft spot for animals and would more often than not, go out of her way to help stray animals.

“She was such a vibrant and well respected member of our community that Rotary really wanted to do something to memorialize Jennifer,” Pinheiro said.

After her death, the Rotary club tried to get a dog park up and running but the city could not maneuver it  at the time. Now that the time has come, the city has found a way to keep her memory alive.

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