Cascade County Sheriff’s Office looking to add drug, tracking canine

The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office is working to add a canine to its ranks.

Officials have been looking into the program for the last year and are hoping to add a dual-purpose–drug and tracking–dog by spring.

Capt. Scott Van Dyken said the startup cost would be an estimated $15,000 and it’s something they’ve wanted to do for years, but other needs like court bailiffs, jail repairs and other expenses have pushed the canine out of budget reach.

“There’s a need for it,” Van Dyken said. “We just don’t want it to be a financial burden to the taxpayers.”

Jail remains full, sheriff’s directive still in effect, city officials seeing impact through increased warrants

A drug canine isn’t included in the budget that was approved by County Commissioners on Sept. 25 and knowing county resources are stretched, Van Dyken said CCSO officials have been looking into other funding sources such as grants from the Montana Board of Crime Control and private donations. Officials looked at drug forfeiture funds but most of those were earmarked for other programs, Van Dyken said.

Commission approves Cascade County budget with tax increases, new deputies

One deputy has expressed strong interest in being the dog handler and the CCSO member of the regional drug task force supports adding a canine to their ranks.

The canine would support drug related searches and operations, as well as tracking suspects who have fled by foot.

The deputy interested in being the dog handler previously served with the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, deployed several times and has been with CCSO for about 2.5 years.

GFPD partnerships with federal agencies helped catch 311 criminals so far this year

Van Dkyen said the plan is to start small with one dog, that would live with the handler, since training is expensive and time-consuming and scheduling of the canine would depend on manpower levels. The canine could be used for scheduled training events, drug interdiction, SWAT calls, among other uses.

The canine would be available to support city, county and drug task force calls, Van Dyken said. The city suspended their canine program in 2016 and there has been no public mention of reinstating the program.

The Montana Highway Patrol launched a drug canine program in 2014.