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DCPS Police introduce K9 unit; Superintendent Diana Greene honored for decades of leadership

K9 Maverick is the department's first K9 and the first firearms detective K9 in Northeast Florida. His job will be to investigate threats and conduct random searches

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County Public School Police has welcomed a new officer to its force. K9 Maverick is the department's first K9 and the first firearms detective K9 in Northeast Florida. 

K9 Maverick is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois. He can detect odors of anything that makes up a firearm like gun powders, oils, and ammunition. His job will be to investigate threats and conduct random school searches at schools and events across the county.

"We want to encourage students not to bring guns to school, but in the event that he does detect the gun in school and we determined that it was brought by a student, then that student will face the penalties, possibly arrest and other penalties along with that," DCPS Chief Burton said. 

Maverick will live with his handler full-time in a blended family of two dog sisters and three human sisters. He is available for call out 24/7. His handler Officer Joseph Baker says he looks forward to having a partner help keep schools safe. 

"Belgian Malinois, they are very trainable. He's a super friendly dog. He has a great personality, he actually does not bark at all. He will cry a little bit when he wants to get out of his cage, but he's just a really good dog, really playful with kids," K9 Handler Joseph Baker said. 

Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene welcomed K9 Maverick to the department ahead of her last day in charge which is this Friday. The ceremony was to welcome Maverick, but Greene was also honored. Greene received compliments on her decades of leadership. District Police Chief Greg Burton called her one of the best leaders.

"She has given me the flexibility and support to do a lot of things with this police department," Chief Greg Burton said. 

Police Chief Greg Burton says Greene's leadership led to the department's success but Greene credited Burton.

"Under your leadership, this school police department has thrived and has become very innovative," Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said.

Greene and Burton say the formation of the district's K9 Unit came with the help of members from both the Clay and St. Johns County Sheriff's Offices. They helped train Maverick and his handler and get the equipment needed. 

St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick thanked Greene for her 33 years of service. 

"You committed to this police department and school safety of the children here in Duval County, not just with saying it and backing a police department and K9 unit but what you've done is implemented security procedures here to include new procedures with your camera systems, enhanced security systems with your fences, your metal detector systems. Officer Baker and K9 Maverick would not be here today without your support of Chief Burton and the agency," St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick added. 

Chief Burton unveiled the department's first flag in Greene's honor. Greene's last day in office is Friday, June 2nd. She will officially retire July 24. The department is also training a second K9. K9 Leo as a drug detective officer. Leo will join the department after he earns his certification.

Credit: First Coast News

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