Aaron Roddy, traffic enforcement deputy, attaches a new ballistic vest to K-9 Mako inside the Roth Building on Aug. 25. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

Monroe County Sheriff’s K-9 Mako took a brief break from his duties on Aug. 25. With his handler, traffic enforcement deputy Aaron Roddy, the two visited the Roth Building in Tavernier where Mako was fitted with a new piece of equipment aimed to keep him a little safer while serving the community. 

Mako, a 3-year-old Labrador trained to sniff out narcotics, stood and watched as Roddy grabbed a new ballistic vest donated by Dr. Robert Prosek. The 5-pound vest fit snugly as Prosek, Sheriff Rick Ramsay and school resource deputy Lauren Landa watched Roddy strap it around his partner in fighting crime. 

“He’s one of the best looking officers now,” said Prosek, the owner of Florida Veterinary Cardiology who learned that Mako didn’t have protection while on duty. “There was an officers’ day at Ocean Studies (Charter School) and I saw the units out there. I talked to the deputy (Landa) about a vest and she said they didn’t have one.” Prosek is no stranger when it comes to donating vests to K-9s in South Florida. 

“I bought some before for Dade County. They (K-9s) should be protected too,” Prosek said. “They worked hard and they’re officers.”

From left, Lauren Landa, school resource officer with Ocean Studies Charter School; Aaron Roddy, traffic enforcement deputy; Dr. Robert Prosek; and Sheriff Rick Ramsay with K-9 Mako. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

Mako is one of two K-9 units operating in the Florida Keys, the other being the golden retriever K-9 Coral. Recently, Mako aided deputies in the arrest of two Big Pine men who were reportedly in possession of pills and methamphetamine. During an Aug. 15 traffic stop in Marathon, Robert Alan Stotts, 49, and Louis Van De Gejuchte, 46, were allegedly found with almost 30 grams of methamphetamine and approximately 20 Adderall pills without a prescription. 

Roddy, also a task force officer with the Drug Enforcement Administration, said Mako not only assists during traffic stops, but he also works with state and federal partners. Roddy said the vest contains a harness so K-9 Mako can be deployed from the air and on the water.

“It’s rated for anything he might encounter,” Roddy said. 

A vest donated by Dr. Robert Prosek fits snug on K-9 Mako, the drug-sniffing labrador who helped deputies arrest two Big Pine Key men during a traffic stop in Marathon on Aug. 15.

When not sniffing out narcotics, Mako and Roddy make friendly visits with local students and the community at National Night Out every August. And when he’s not working, Mako is busy chasing boats and enjoying some downtime with Roddy. 

Inside the Roth Building, Ramsay presented Prosek with a challenge coin as a token of thanks for the vest donation. 

“That’s very kind of you,” Ramsay said to Prosek. “These dogs are doing great stuff. Every week they’re making nice drug cases. A lot of them are coming from the K-9s which give them (officers) probable cause to search cars.”

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.