Glendive was host to K-9 training

Hunter Herbaugh
Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Laurel Police Department Officer Jackson Booth and K-9 Colt search the BNSF depot building during trainings in Glendive. Hunter Herbaugh photo

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Local residents were surprised to see Billings police per forming traffic stops in Glendive on Wednesday, but it’s okay, they were just looking for drugs. More specifically, they were performing training for their narcotics detection K-9s, along with multiple other law enforcement agencies.

According to Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Barry Kilpela, these are regular trainings arranged by the Montana Law Enforcement K-9 Association. They are generally informal trainings that take place in different host communities and have been going on since about the beginning of 2017. This time, it was Glendive’s turn to host, so local HWP officers were joined by police from Billings and Laurel to perform the training.

This training included the traffic stops that local residents were seeing. The stops were simulated to give the K-9s a practice scenario. According to Kilpela, some of these vehicles had illegal narcotics planted in them while other vehicles were “blank,” meaning there weren’t any drugs in them. On Thursday, they switched to practicing clearing buildings, using some of the empty BNSF property in town.

“The Montana Law Enforcement K-9 Association, typically in the eastern part of the state, we try to do one training a month, but the location of the trainings could be anywhere. We try to go to as many different venues, towns or cities that have K-9 units in our part of the K-9 association,” Kilpela said. This training, maybe more accurately described as practice, is mainly to keep the dog’s senses sharp and make them more proficient in detecting hidden drugs.

With the association doing these trainings on a monthly basis for roughly the past four years, he said he was surprised not many people noticed before this week.

“All of the dogs are narcotics detecting dogs but then some of them as well also do patrol work, meaning light work or apprehension or tracking, but the part of it we always do is narcotic’s detection. Those could be in vehicles, in buildings, lockers, we do luggage, we do packages, we train and stay proficient on any of those things,” he said.

Kilpela explained that the way the training works, is the dogs are taught to associate the smell of narcotics with the scent of their toys, so they don’t even know they’re looking for drugs, they think they are looking for their toys.

The joint trainings wrapped up Thursday afternoon, though Kilpela noted that any agency with a K-9 unit usually tries to continue their own independent training on a weekly basis in between the monthly joint sessions. The local highway patrol has two K-9 units.

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