Remembering late sheriff and surfer Mike Treinen

(From left) Curtis, Will, and The Mighty Under Dogs co-founder Tim Hazelip commiserate during the surf therapy event held in the honor of Mike Treinen. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

The Mighty Under Dogs honored Treinen on Sunday, April 23, at Surfrider Beach in latest surf therapy event

On April 6, 2021, former LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Treinen passed away unexpectedly, and since then, the Malibu and surfing community has never been the same. 

In honor of his memory, the Mighty Under Dogs, the 501 (c)(3) charity, held their latest surf therapy event in memory of Treinen at Surfrider Beach. The Mighty Under Dogs are a team of dedicated surfers who provide ongoing therapy for children with social challenges, and cognitive and physical emotional disorders, as well as autism.

Co-founders Tim Hazelip and Jean-Pierre Pereat welcomed the participants to the surf therapy event and shared a prayer in memory of Treinen. 

“Today we’re very honored because today we’re here to honor Mike Treinen,” Pereat said. “Mike was a fixture here in the water, outside the water, everywhere in the community, and we told ourselves two years ago that we’re never going to forget his memory, and by not forgetting his memory, is why we’re here today — to celebrate his life.”

Treinen was a fixture at Malibu City Council meetings, offering updates, along with the outreach workers, to aid members of the local homeless community. He also represented the department in all kinds of events in town, from the Citizen of the Year Dolphin Awards to the city’s annual holiday parties. He spent most of his career working in and around Malibu and after more than three decades with the department, Treinen retired in 2020.

“Through the children and through the ocean, he loved what we did, he was always here for us, so anytime we’re here, I always think of him,” Pereat said. “Once a year we’re going to do an event and we’re going to cherish his life and his memory and have a beautiful time aloha style, on Sundays, family days.”

Treinen was also known for his efforts within the homeless community and securing housing for them. While known within the LASD as a training officer who helped show the ropes to new deputies who were first entering the department, in Malibu he was best known as our local homeless outreach coordinator, a role he held for several years. 

“That guy meant the world to us and to this place [Surfrider Beach],” Hazelip said. “That guy stood up for everyone here, he was such a legend and such a good guy, such a great man, I loved him dearly; we all did.”

The organization is dedicated to the recreational rehabilitation of participants of all ages by exposing them to adaptive surfing taught by class instructors. 

Parent Michael Russotti has his daughter in the Mighty Under Dogs therapy session and said it’s a great organization.

“I think it’s a life-changing event for the kids,” Russotti said. “My daughter’s a surfer, I’m a surfer and we just love watching my daughter get such a kick of it and never a dry eye, so we just love watching these guys do surf therapy.”

Hazelip has known Treinen for over 20 years and said even after Treinen joined law enforcement, he never forgot where he came from.

“He was one of us — he was a surfer; the photo that’s on the shirt was before he was a cop,” Hazelip said. “And when he became a cop, he never lost where he came from. There’s not a lot like him in the world, he stuck out like a sore thumb.

“In this dark industry, he was a flashlight. The times he helped the homeless out there while on duty were the things I remember about him, just being a real guy.”

Treinen was also described by community members as a “true hero” and “great man” who was the “heart and soul of the sheriff’s department.”

“Our organization started right here on this beach, and between me and my partner [Pereat], we have 85 years of surfing experience,” Hazelip said. “Surfing is a selfish thing, a selfish sport, and something’s changed for us in our lives, and we started pushing kids in the waves and pushing dudes off the waves; doing something nice for someone feels so good.”

Pereat said Malibu should honor surfers who have made an impact in the community with a walk of fame near Surfrider Beach.

“Mike was an ambassador to the community for Lost Hills Sheriffs, to the ocean, to the land, he was an interesting person because there was no one like him,” Pereat said. “He made everything cool in Malibu. If we had any issues, he took care of them. He also was — I think, the ambassador to people experiencing homelessness here in Malibu. We miss him terribly, but he was an amazing part of Malibu, and he’ll always be an amazing part of Malibu.”