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Staff Snapshot: Jordan Leyland, K-9 officer and home chef

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Officer Jordan Leyland (Photo by Cedric Young)

“I always knew I could never sit at a desk,” says Jordan Leyland. “I have been active my whole life and needed movement and days that were not routine to have an enjoyable career.” He met this goal by training to become a police officer. Now, “every day is unique,” he says. “I love my job, I never become uninterested in my work and I am always on the move.”

The experience of working at UC Irvine or other UC campus police departments is very different from what many people envision from dramatic news headlines and television series, Jordan explains. “When people see police on television they see scenes of wild car chases, officer-involved shootouts and people being taken to jail. Though these types of incidents can happen in law enforcement, they’re not the reason I became a police officer. That’s what makes working for UC distinct: We are here to serve the public in any way they need help. We keep them safe and help to educate them about their safety and the safety of others. At the end of the day, we are public servants here to meet whatever need may arise.”

Jordan is especially well-known on campus because he is UC Irvine’s first-ever K-9 handler. His partner is Cliff, a 2-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever.

Becoming a K-9 handler was a proud moment for Jordan, and an accomplishment he worked towards for years. Before joining the UC Irvine Police Department, he was a police officer for the City of Chino. There, he worked to gain experience with K-9 handlers by volunteering to be an agitator/decoy — a person who dresses up in a thick bite suit and pretends to be a suspect for police dogs to apprehend. 

Once Jordan was selected to be UC Irvine’s K-9 officer, he and Cliff had to attend and pass a six-week certification course. Cliff is currently trained to detect explosive-making materials, firearms and ammunition. The pair continues to build their skills; they’re currently training to track lost and missing people.

“Since being assigned to Cliff, my day is much busier,” Jordan says. “As an accessory to patrol, I still respond to the majority of types of calls and take reports, but Cliff is my primary duty. I make sure that he is healthy, fed and ready for times of need. I make sure he gets appropriate break times and exercise every day, and to keep his skills sharp, we train several times a week.”

As you might have guessed, dogs have always been one of Jordan’s passions. “I’ve been around dogs and animals my entire life, since birth. Growing up, my family rescued animals frequently and it would not be uncommon to have four to six dogs in our household at one time. I have always been an animal lover, and dog lover in particular,” he says.

Meet Jordan

Name: Jordan Leyland

Title: Police K-9 Officer

Department/Unit: Police Department

Location: UC Irvine

When did you start working for UC? October 29, 2018

In five words or less, what do you do for UC? Public Safety for the UC Irvine community.

Why do you love working for UC? It gives me an opportunity to share the beneficial side of policing. Students come here for a relatively short time — they filter onto campus and then go off to lead their lives. As an officer, I try to facilitate as many positive interactions with people as I can. I hope that students’ experiences at UC will help them to view policing positively, so that they’ll carry that perception with them into the future and it will spread to those around them, creating a better view of policing as a whole.

What’s something people don’t know about you? I really enjoy cooking and preparing good meals for my family and friends. I love to use quality ingredients and I take my time to make every bite delectable. I like to entertain and make people feel treated to a relaxing night of fun and good food.

Who’s your dream dinner guest (living or dead) and why? Tom Brady. Sports have played a huge role in my life. I admire him as a former professional player and as a football fan. His story of beginning his career humbly and projecting himself through hard work to become the greatest player of all time resonates with me in a way that I cannot help but idolize him.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? Always be humble and treat everyone with dignity and respect.

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