Leander PD welcomes first K-9 officer

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The Leander Police Department welcomed four new members on July 12 including Chaplain Joe Bob Ellison, Crime Scene Specialist Haley Williams, Officer John Carnley and K-9 Officer Kodi — a 16-month-old Belgian Malinois hailing from Poland. 

The four were officially sworn in by Assistant Chief of Police Jeff Hayes at a badge-pinning ceremony held on July 12 at the Leander Police Department.

“To wear this badge is to accept the responsibility and to affirm commitment not only to our department but (also to affirm) a very strong commitment to serve… the community,” Hayes said during the ceremony.

A former U.S. Marine and current Central Texas Regional SWAT Team member, Carnley has served on the Leander police force since Oct. 2008. He started off as a patrol officer before switching over to the Traffic Department. He was chosen to be Leander’s first K-9 handler in April.

Carnley and Kodi completed an intensive eight-week K-9 training course at the Pacesetter K-9 training facility in Liberty Hill. According to Hayes, the training covered handler protection, narcotic searches, tracking and building searches.

Carnley joked that even though he feels like he is a fresh recruit out of the Police Academy with Kodi, there is nothing they can’t accomplish together.

“He’s a dual purpose dog,” Carnley said of Kodi. “He’s trained in apprehension, tracking and narcotics... I’m looking forward to catching bad guys. That’s what a K-9 is all about. He gives us an extra tool in our toolbox to catch criminals. If someone has drugs in their car, he will be able to find them. Whereas our noses can’t detect that, he can. If someone runs from the scene of a crime, he will be the first to catch and apprehend them.”

The assistant chief says that Carnley and Kodi’s relationship shows both sides of the coin as both a working partnership and a deep friendship. 

“He takes the dog home, the dog is in his home with his family. He cares for that dog,” said Hayes. 

According to a press release from the city, the Leander Police Department had relied on assistance from K-9 officers from Cedar Park Police and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office in the past.

Hayes stated that the city had an informal K-9 program in the 1990s. Officers had to find their own dogs and get training for them. “What we’re starting now (however) is a full council-supported program,” he said.

Carnley and Kodi will have been assigned to Leander’s Traffic Enforcement Management unit, assisting patrols when needed. The Leander Police Department says this is just the start of their work with and integration of K-9 officers into the force. 

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