Leander Police Officer John Carnley pinned a police badge onto the collar of a 16-month-old Belgian malinois named Kodi at the city’s department headquarters in July.
The ceremony added a K-9 unit to the police department and welcomed aboard the city’s first police dog.
Before acquiring Kodi, Leander police relied on K-9 assistance from the Cedar Park Police Department and Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, according to the city. Leander also had an informal K-9 program for about a decade in the 1990s when the police department retrofitted an old 1980s Ford with plywood and carpet to act as the K-9 vehicle, Assistant Chief of Police Jeff Hayes said. At the time, Hayes said officers had to obtain their own dogs and pay for much of the training themselves.
“What we’re starting now is a full council-supported program,” he said.
The department selected Kodi, who is originally from Poland, at the Pacesetter K-9 training facility in Liberty Hill. Hayes said Pacesetter completes initial basic obedience training with the dogs, and the dog and handler complete more intense training together once they are matched.
“They become a symbiotic team—a unit,” Hayes said. “They begin to learn how to work with each other, then how to accomplish the desired tasks.”
Carnley, who previously served as a U.S. Marine, is a member of the Central Texas Regional SWAT Team and has served with the Leander Police Department for over 10 years. He said having Kodi will give the police department self-reliance and will let Leander police support other agencies as well.
“This will give LPD a tool to detect evidence, track lost persons or fleeing suspects, and deter crime through the presence of a unique asset,” he said.
Two other new members, Chaplain Joe Bob Ellison and Crime Scene Specialist Haley Williams, also received badges and were officially recognized into the department at the ceremony. The K-9 duo will be assigned to the city’s Traffic Enforcement Management unit, assisting patrol whenever necessary, Hayes said. Kodi could also make public appearances in support of community engagement initiatives.
“He is Leander’s K-9 and, hopefully, the first in a growing team of K-9 officers and handlers that become a part of LPD as we grow,” Carnley said.