At a public event in Billings this afternoon, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and leaders from the Highway Patrol introduced the new K-9 narcotic units that recently entered service across the state.
“The Highway Patrol’s first-ever K-9 units are an important step forward in our ongoing efforts to combat the flow of illegal drugs in and through Montana,” Attorney General Fox said. “In the short time they’ve been in service, these highly trained K-9 units have already accomplished great things and demonstrated their significant value.”
“We’re excited to have these new teams in service,” said Colonel Tom Butler, chief of the Highway Patrol. “A tremendous amount of time and hard work have gone into making our first-ever K-9 narcotic units a reality. Regularly partnering with other law enforcement agencies in Montana, our robust drug-interdiction work has been made even stronger by the addition of these new units.”
The K-9 units are based at strategic locations throughout Montana and travel the state regularly to conduct drug-interdiction operations.
Purchasing and training the K-9s was funded by drug-forfeiture money and grants from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program.
In April 2013, Sergeant Kelly Mantooth was named the first Montana Highway Patrol K-9 supervisor. At no expense to the State of Montana, he attended a 10-week K-9 academy held by the Alaska State Troopers in Fairbanks. Sergeant Mantooth and his K-9, Tika, were certified for service in June 2013.
In early 2014, after a rigorous screening process based on evaluations, interviews, and work-related experience, the Patrol selected its new K-9 handlers. In April, the new drug-detecting K-9s arrived at the training facility in Big Timber, Montana. The K-9s were purchased through Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania and came to Montana directly from Europe. In May, the Patrol held its first K-9 training academy in Big Timer. The teams graduated on June 16 and are certified by the North American Police Work Dog Association.
Montana Highway Patrol K-9 Units:
Sergeant Kelly Mantooth
Tika, a three year-old female Belgian Malinois/Shepherd blend
Trooper Shad Andersen
Zorro, a two year-old male German Shepherd
Trooper Eric Fetterhoff
Shakie, a 1.5 year-old male German Shepherd
Trooper Shawn Fowler
Tommie, a two year-old male Dutch Shepherd
Trooper Darvin Mees
Saar, a three year-old female Belgian Malinois
Trooper Glenn Quinnell
Sammy, a two year-old female Dutch Shepherd
The Patrol also has a dual-purpose patrol/bomb-detecting K-9 stationed with the Executive Protection Detail in Helena. “Kira” is a female Belgian Malinois.