New Hillsborough sheriff's K9 named after sergeant killed in line of duty

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is welcoming a new K9, who is named after one of its sergeants killed in the line of duty last year.

K9 Roy is named after Sergeant Brian LaVigne, taking the late sergeant's middle name. HCSO said their K9 unit named Roy together with the LaVigne family.

"My dad was tough as nails, just like the dogs are, so it's nice to know he's kind of still out here with us," said Deputy Caitlin LaVigne, the late sergeant's daughter, who also works for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

According to the agency, K9 Roy's handler is Deputy Sarah Ernstes, a close family friend of the LaVignes.

"I just hope that Roy and I can honor them and honor him in some way that they'll be proud of us," Ernstes said.

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K9 Roy is a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd mix, who specializes in searching for narcotics.

The sheriff's office said K9 Roy will carry on LaVigne's law enforcement legacy.

"This tribute to Sergeant Brian LaVigne is one that will be ever-present among those who come into contact with K9 Roy," Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. "While we continue to heal as an agency after losing Sergeant LaVigne last year, I know that K9 Roy will be a constant reminder of the legacy he left behind when his life was cruelly taken from us."

LaVigne was a 31-year veteran of the sheriff's office and just one shift away from retirement on Jan. 11, 2021 when a suspect fleeing from deputies intentionally rammed his car into the sergeant's patrol vehicle.

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The 54-year-old sergeant was trapped in his cruiser after the crash, and later died as a result of his injuries.

Lavigne is survived by his wife and two daughters.

In his statement announcing K9 Roy's naming, Chronister said, "It is an honor that the LaVigne family has allowed us to use his name to always remember the loving man, husband, father and friend Sergeant LaVigne was to us all."