Coconut Creek Police welcomes new K-9 trained to keep students safe

COCONUT CREEK, FLA. (WSVN) - Coconut Creek Police has welcomed a new four-legged addition specially trained to keep students safe, and her handler has a significant connection to the Parkland shooting.

Taylor, a 17-month-old Labrador retriever, is a school safety dog trained to find guns and ammunition.

7News cameras captured Taylor being trained by her handler, Coconut Creek Police School Resource Officer Michael Leonard, Wednesday afternoon.

On the grass were several book bags. Inside one of them were five shotgun shells.

“Search, search,” Leonard said as Taylor sniffed the bags.

It took seconds for her to sit down right next to the one with the shells.

“She smells guns and ammunition and anything associated with it,” said Leonard. “Once she gets to a source, if the source stops walking, she will sit.”

Leonard, a new K-9 handler, spent two months training with his new partner. Taylor spent the last year and a half honing her craft.

“She’s extremely smart. She’s 17 months. She is a bolt of energy, lots of energy,” said Leonard. “She loves to hunt.”

Now, she’s hunting to help keep schools safe, sniffing for weapons.

“You did good, you did good. That’s my girl,” said Leonard as he encouraged Taylor.

As for Leonard, he said this is exactly where he wants to be: in schools making a difference.

“We need to try anything that we can to eliminate this type of things getting into the schools,” he said, “so where it be a dog or a metal detector or things like that, we’ve got to do something. We have to try.”

Leonard was one of the officers who apprehended Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz on Feb. 14, 2018.

“Around that day, we got the call in the radio, and we all took off, and I was able to be a part of that,” he said. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it.”

Now, he and Taylor are doing something about it.

“Just have that extra layer of protection to protect these kids, to deter other kids from bringing things like this to school and keep the kids safe,” he said.

Taylor graduated in the top 10% of her class. She has spent close to 300 hours with her handler.

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