GREAT FALLS — The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office will soon welcome a new four-legged officer - a new K-9.
K-9s serve a major role in law enforcement and the Sheriff's Office is no different, as they get ready to welcome Kilo to the team.
Sheriff Jesse Slaughter explained, "We had a dog previously, but we ended up having to sell that dog to another jurisdiction when the recreational marijuana (law) passed."
The county was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Montana Marijuana K-9 Replacement Program in October as well as an additional $3,303 from the Montana Department of Justice.
The Sheriff's Office said in a recent Facebook post:
Kilo, a German Shepherd, is currently being trained in Tennessee and will be joined by our newest K9 Handler, Deputy Evan O’Neill, in about 6-8 weeks. Deputy O’Neill and K9 Kilo will then begin their training together in Tennessee for four (4) weeks before they make their way back home to Cascade County. Like our other patrol K9 Dutch, K9 Kilo will only be a narcotic detection and tracking K9; no criminal (bite) apprehension. We are excited for our newest K9 addition and Deputy O'Neill!
Slaughter said of K-9s: "They play a huge role. There's a lot of different ways that drugs are being trafficked in this day and age, and with their keen sense of smell, they're able to find things that we probably wouldn't find, due to hidden compartments."
Sheriff Slaughter says an extra K-9 will be helpful in performing their day-to-day tasks: "Currently, we have one drug dog on the road. It's really nice to have two. The K-9 handlers get called out a lot. They get called out to different scenes, different investigations, different issues, plus their regular scheduled shifts, and any drug interdiction type work that they may be doing. It helps with the burnout of the K-9 handlers, too."
Here is a news release from the Montana Attorney General's office regarding the grants that were recently awarded:
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen today announced the final round of grant awards that will help local law enforcement agencies obtain and train new canine units to crack down on illegal drugs being trafficked into Montana. Following the 18 initial $10,000 grants approved by the selection committee in October, five new agencies will receive funding and 14 will receive additional funding.
Twenty-three agencies have now been approved to receive a total of $300,000 in grant funding through this program. All of the funds appropriated by the legislature for this purpose have now been dispersed.
“Montana is being flooded with dangerous drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine that come across the southern border. After their training is completed, these K9s will be an asset in helping law enforcement keep our communities safe by keeping drugs off the streets,” Attorney General Knudsen said.
The grant program reflects Attorney General Knudsen’s commitment to getting resources out of Helena and into the hands of local first responders and law enforcement.
The following new applications for grants have been approved:
- Fort Peck Tribal Police Department – $13,000
- Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office – $14,000
- Montana Highway Patrol – $20,000 (two canines)
- Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office – $13,000
- Valley County Sheriff’s Office – $10,460
The following agencies will receive additional funding to support costs of the K9 and training not covered in their original $10,000 award:
- Billings Police Department – $5,000
- Bozeman Police Department – $3,132
- Carbon County Sheriff’s Office – $4,900
- Cascade County Sheriff’s Office – $3,303
- Columbus Police Department – $3,500
- Dawson County Sheriff’s Office – $3,589
- Hill County Sheriff’s Office – $760
- Lake County Sheriff’s Office – $4,648
- Meagher County Sheriff’s Office – $3,313
- Missoula County Sheriff’s Office – $4,000
- Missoula Police Department – $10,000
- Musselshell County Sheriff’s Office – $3,000
- Rosebud County Sheriff’s Office – $3,500
- Sidney Police Department – $5,000
During the 2021 Legislative Session, Knudsen secured funds in House Bill 701 for the Montana Department of Justice to administer a grant program helping law enforcement agencies purchase and train new drug detecting canines to replace those that were trained to detect marijuana after voters last year passed an initiative legalizing the drug.