OCALA, Fla. – A four-legged pup named Albi is the newest member of Marion County Sheriff’s school resource officer division.
The German short-haired pointer has one job: track down guns inside Marion County Schools.
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“I wanted this since about six years ago, when I became an SRO,” said Cpl. Erik DeAngelis, K-9 Albi’s handler. “I wanted a way I could make a difference in the schools, and I knew a dog would always make a difference.”
Deputy DeAngelis’ dream was made possible by Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods and a group of community business owners, who raised the $14,000 needed for Albi and her training.
“I’d rather her not find a single gun, to be frank with you,” Sheriff Woods told reporters during a news conference on Tuesday. “If she goes through the whole school year and does not find a gun because they were too afraid to bring it on campus, then that is the goal. That is the purpose. But I am also realistic. She will find a gun. She will find ammunition.”
And she did find them. Albi picked the knapsack with the gun inside every, single time during the demonstration on Tuesday.
While Albi’s main purpose is to sniff out guns and gunpowder, she has found another secondary purpose. Albi has already begun interacting with students and Marion County deputies realized Albi can sometimes reach kids in ways they cannot — almost like a service dog.
“She has the informal capability of being basically like a therapy dog. Once you meet Albi, you fully understand why her personality has been able to reach out to these kids,” said Woods, smiling.
As students, teachers, parents and SROs gear up to get back to school, Woods and his new K-9 Albi have a back-to-school message: “To the would-be criminals that are viewing right now, know Albi is coming. If you carry a gun on campus, she will find you and we will arrest you.”