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13-year-old is building one-of-a-kind training center for K9 officers to honor his father

Boy Scout to finish what his father started
Posted: 5:31 PM, Sep 14, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-14 21:06:58-04

A 13-year-old boy is only a few hundred dollars away from beginning construction on a one-of-a-kind training center for the California Highway Patrol that will also memorialize his father. 

Zachary Williams is building a K9 training center in El Cajon for his Eagle Scout project.

“It’s going to be the first ever CHP training area in all of Southern California,” said the eighth grader.

Currently, the CHP K9s and their handlers use training centers run by individual cities or the county. They don’t have their own.

Zachary’s father, Officer Jonas Williams, actually started building the center in 2013. His work on the center was cut short a week in after Officer Williams died from complications after a hip surgery. It has sat as a fenced-in dirt lot with some old obstacles since.

“When he[Officer Williams] passed, this kind of died with him unfortunately and it’s great that Zach’s bringing it back,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Pearlstein.

“Everyone will know that it was me and my dad, that we’re finishing it,” said the younger Williams. “It’s good to know that I’m going to be finishing the project for him since he passed away in 2013, three days before my 11th birthday.”

Zachary and his mother started a GoFundMe page  to pay for the project. As of Wednesday afternoon, he has raised $6,100 of his $7,500 goal. He’s also recruited volunteer help and donations from local businesses like Global Syn-Turf and U.S. Green Energy Technologies.

“It makes me feel…happier, a little bit,” he said. “I think he would be pretty happy and proud about it.”

“It will make all of us proud and I know Jonas is now watching over him and he’s proud as well,” said Pearlstein, who worked with Officer Williams for more than a decade.

“It was going pretty hard,” said the preteen about his father’s death. “Just now I’m, just here trying to finish the project for him.”

Zachary hopes to break ground October 22 and have CHP K9s using it by the end of November.