City Council approves drug dog training

By Casey Jones Star Editor
Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Miles City Police Department is one step closer to adding a new weapon to its arsenal in the war against drugs.

The City Council Tuesday set the wheels in motion to put a drug detection dog on the front lines this fall.

Council members unanimously agreed to pay $10,800 to Shallow Creek Kennels of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, for an intensive, month-long training program in Pennsylvania for the dog and its handler.

The dog will be trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin, and their derivatives.

The animal will also be trained in tracking, but not in attack and apprehension. “We don’t want that liability,” Police Chief Doug Colombik said.

The training, the dog and the vehicle to carry it in won’t cost taxpayers a dime, Colombik explained when a council member questioned the high cost of training.

Colombik reported that the Department has collected about $26,000 in donations and proceeds from two raffles of guns donated by Miles City physician Dr. Jeff Williams.

Two more gun raffles are planned, and Colombik said he expects to have money left over for a vehicle maintenance fund. A used vehicle will be purchased locally, he said after the meeting.

Council member John Uden noted that the dog will pay for itself, as the police department receives a portion of money from the sale of property forfeited by drug dealers. “This is self-sustaining. This is not going to cost the city any money,” Uden said.

Colombik said that while the training program is expensive, it’s worth the cost.

“We’ve got a problem in this town. We need a drug dog, and we need a vehicle for the drug dog,” he said. “It’s expensive, but so is losing our kids and family members and neighbors to drug addiction.”

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Colombik said his officers have been hearing that some of the city’s unsavory citizens “are really unhappy about us getting a drug dog.”

His officers, however, couldn’t be more pleased. “The officers are pretty excited about having a dog,” he said. “They know what’s out there.”

Felony arrests have skyrocketed in the city in recent years, and many, including some for domestic violence, are drug related.

While the actual dog has not yet been chosen, Colombik told the council it will be a young dog able to provide years of service. In the past, the department had acquired several older dogs that had short careers.

Colombik said the dog will be the property of the police department. “If the officer leaves, the dog stays with us,” he said.

The training begins Oct. 1, and will result in both the dog and the handler being certified and ready for service beginning in November.

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