WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — The law enforcement community in Jefferson County is welcoming its newest four-legged member.

A graduation celebration was held outside the Jefferson County Public Safety Building on April 8. This event honored not only the newest recruits, but also the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office’s newest K9, named K9 Lafferty.

The barely one-year-old Belgian Malinoi just finished a 14-week training curriculum at the New York State academy.

Standing with his handler Deputy Christian Hughes, K9 Lafferty was celebrated by Jefferson County Sheriff Colleen O’Neil, Jefferson County Undersheriff and retired Jefferson County Sheriff James Lafferty, who the dog was named after.

According to Jefferson County Sheriff O’Neill, Deputy Hughes was a perfect candidate to train a K9.

“We have a lot of enthusiasm and optimism when it comes to k( Lafferty,” Sheriff O’Neill expressed. “Deputy Hughes and him seemed to click really well. They were extremely successful at school.”

As all current Jefferson County Sheriff K9s are named after former Sheriffs, Sheriff Lafferty shared that he was humbled when asked if a K9 could be named after him after he served in law enforcement for over four decades.

“To have a dog named after me, I am so pleased that the Sheriff named the dog after me, the name continues,” Sheriff Lafferty shared. “The K9 handler has a wonderful partner with this dog right now.”

But Deputy Hughes said the “real training starts now” as K9 Lafferty is trained for many scenarios such as identifying narcotics, locating individuals and protecting his handler and other law enforcement personnel.

Deputy Hughes continued and expressed how it is an honor to extend Sheriff Lafferty’s legacy with his new partner.

“Sitting here today is unbelievably exciting and humbling,” Deputy Hughes expressed. “As I was saying earlier, it’s the best job in law enforcement and the best job in the world, I think being a K9 handler.”