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K-9s from all throughout Montana train at the Boulder site of the Montana Highway Patrol



Boulder, Montana — The Montana Highway Patrol is collaborating with regional law enforcement agencies this week to help K-9 officers prepare for a crucial certification test later this year.

A two-day training course is being held by MHP at their new headquarters in Boulder. On Wednesday, canines worked on drug detection in automobiles, recognizing items with a human scent that a suspect might have dropped, sniffing out potential explosives in rooms, and assisting with suspect capture.

Each year, tests are administered to K-9s in order to maintain their certification from the North American Police Work Dog Association. This instruction is designed to prepare pupils for the format of the test by simulating the tasks they will encounter there.

“If there’s any issues that arise, we’re able to work on them as we’re doing the mock certification,” said Sgt. Shad Andersen, who supervises MHP’s K-9 program.

The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office in the east and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office in the west are among the law enforcement organizations assisting MHP this week. It’s the first time, according to Andersen, that these many individuals have gathered for a training session here.

“Not only do we train together, we’re often on the same calls together,” he said. “So it’s good when you’re out there on the road to know what to expect from these guys when you’re working with them, especially in an emergent situation.”

With the Boulder site, MHP has additional choices for organizing this kind of event. There are plenty of open spaces for outdoor training, as well as structures they can employ for particular circumstances. Andersen stated that they want to keep the current training sets and keep enhancing them.

“The sky’s the limit out here for K-9 training,” said Sgt. James Beck, with MHP’s Western Criminal Interdiction Team.

Beck was practicing drug detection in a car with his K-9 companion Apollo. Six trucks, the most of which were provided by a Butte wrecking company, were set up by MHP in a fenced-off area for training. Even two school buses are available for the dogs to search.

“We try to expose them to as much as possible,” said Beck.

The Boulder campus will be used for regular training, according to Andersen. Events like this, according to him, will continue to be crucial, particularly in light of the fact that Montana law enforcement continues to report sizable numbers of narcotics seizures.

“The K-9 has proven time and time again to be one of the most useful tools we have,” he said.


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