FORT BENTON — The Fort Benton police chief hopes to soon have a drug-detecting K-9 riding in the back of the police department's vehicles, primarily as a deterrent against illegal drug activity.
As of March 28, the process of getting a dog was really just beginning but Fort Benton Police Chief Adam Jacques said there was already a lot of community support for a dog.
"This is just one of several ideas we're trying to come up with," Jacques said of some pictures in his office.
Printed-out pictures in Jacques' office show what the small community's police department vehicles could look like in the near future if and when the department is able to get a drug-detecting K-9.
"Even though we're small, we still have a drug problem. It may not be as rampant as other places but it's here. As we move forward, I'm trying to take the approach that 'Let's not wait until we are behind and we're trying to play catch up' because with our resources, I don't think we can play catch up," said Jacques.
The department needs $12,500 for the dog, but Jacques would eventually like to raise around $25,000 to make what he calls advancements to the department's vehicles to make sure the dog is comfortable.
"He'll be assigned to me," Jacques said of the dog. "He'll live in my home, and he'll be available for officers to call out here locally, the Sheriff's office, highway patrol, anyone that could use that resource."
The dog will not be a bite dog but could be used for tracking along with drug detection.
At the April 3 city commission meeting, Jacques will present the idea of getting a dog to commissioners and if they approve fundraising will begin.
"This will be completely either through grant funding or community donations. It won't come from our general fund," Jacques said. "We'll have a GoFundMe (account), we'll also probably do some t-shirt sales."
Jamie Lindsay owns Missouri River Lumber in Fort Benton, one of several businesses that Jacques said supports the police department getting a dog.
"I think it's a great advantage to the small community that we live in," Lindsay said.
She believes a dog will help keep the community safe and enjoyable and said drugs are something she worries about.
"Not that I've been involved personally in any of it, but I know there's a strong presence here," said Lindsay.
"A lot of places unfortunately around this country have climates where law enforcement is not supported and I feel for those officers that are fighting that. We're lucky here that I never encounter that kind of kickback from this community. So it makes me feel good, it makes my officers feel good, that we're doing what we're supposed to do and the community supports us in doing that," said Jacques.
The police department's goal is to raise enough money by July to purchase a dog.
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