In January of 2021, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office lost Sergeant Brian Roy LaVigne. He was killed when his patrol car was intentionally rammed by another vehicle on W. Lumsden Rd., near S. Kings Ave., in Brandon.
The legacy of Brian will now be carried on by one of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office’s (HCSO) new K9s.
Together with the LaVigne family, HCSO’s K9 unit named Roy after Brian’s middle name. K9 Roy’s handler is Deputy Sarah Ernstes, who has been with the agency since 2011 and is a close family friend of the LaVignes.
“This tribute to Sergeant Brian LaVigne is one that will be ever present amongst those who come into contact with K9 Roy,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “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. 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.”
K9 Roy is a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois and German shepherd mix. He specializes in the search of narcotics. Ernstes and K9 Roy and two other handler/K9 duos graduated in September 2021 after 480 hours of training together.
The LaVigne Family is truly honored to have K9 Roy named after Sergeant LaVigne. “My dad was tough as nails, just like the dogs are, so it’s nice to know he is still kind of our here with us,” said Dept. Caitlin LaVigne, Brian’s daughter.
Ernstes is proud she can help carry on Brian’s legacy.
“For me, it was a hope that it would give the family some peace and joy despite everything they have been through this past year,” Ernstes said. “I just hope Roy and I can honor him in some way that they will be proud of us.”
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is delighted that it has K9 Roy as part of its team, and it hopes that Brian is smiling down from above on Ernstes and K9 Roy.