Arapahoe Sheriff’s Office expands therapy dog program into Cherry Creek School District

Heather Willard
Riley, 9-week-old deputy.(Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office)

Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / Sept. 13, 2022

(Centennial, Colo.) The youngest member of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office was officially sworn in Monday.

Riley, a 9-week-old Labrador puppy, is paired with School Resource Officer Deputy Adam Nardi, who has four years of experience in the schools and 20 years of experience with the sheriff’s office. Nardi and Riley will work throughout the Cherry Creek district throughout unincorporated areas of Arapahoe County and Centennial.

Riley will work with all types of students to bring comfort in times of crisis, help reduce stress and assist those who suffer from anxiety or depression.

The Cherry Creek School District’s Mental Health Emergency Task Force recommended using therapy dogs last year. The group includes students, staff, parents and community members who came together to address the mental health crisis in schools.

“Meeting the mental health needs of our students is an important part of supporting their whole wellbeing,” said Christopher Smith, Cherry Creek superintendent. “We are excited to welcome Riley into our schools as part of the team of SROs who keep our schools safe.”

Riley was sworn in by Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown and joins the department’s two other school therapy dogs, Rex and Zeke, who work in Littleton Public Schools.

“The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office has seen great success with the use of therapy dogs at our neighboring school districts and we’re excited to expand our program to the students and staff in the Cherry Creek School District,” said Brown.

In the next year, Riley will be trained in basic obedience and attend the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen and intensive class for his therapy dog certification. When he’s a year old, Riley will begin training in scent detection for firearms.

“I’m excited to see the care, love, and smiles Riley is going to bring to all of the staff and students in the Cherry Creek School District,” said Nardi. “I think he’s going to be a great tool to help students to change their outlook and mood.”

Nardi said he is looking forward to incorporating Riley into many new and exciting programs for Cherry Creek Schools.

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Public safety reporter in DougCo, Denver metro. Previously: Pueblo Chieftain public safety reporter, Athens Messenger associate editor. Caffeine fiend, cat mom and lover of all things spooky.

Broomfield, CO

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