The Montana Department of Justice announced Wednesday its first round of grant awards for local law enforcement to intercept illegal drugs trafficked into the state.
The state is drawing $300,000 from upcoming revenues from taxes on cannabis sales to combat methamphetamine and fentanyl trafficking. Methamphetamine contributed to a 91% increase in violent crime from 2013 to 2020, according to the Montana Board of Crime Control.
The grant funding, which law enforcement agencies will use to obtain and train new canine units, were included in the Legislature's marijuana legalization bill passed earlier this year. The new dogs will replace those who were previously trained to sniff out cannabis; such dogs can't be untrained to smell weed.
“Dangerous drugs like methamphetamine and fentanyl are coming in from the southern border and leading to an increase in crime across Montana. This program is part of my commitment to getting additional resources into the hands of local first responders,” Republican Attorney General Knudsen said in a press release, referencing a promise made on the campaign trail during his 2020 run for the office. “Once trained, these canines and law enforcement officers will be on the front lines protecting our communities from drugs and the crime they cause.”
The 18 agencies awarded grant funding by the selection committee are:
• Billings Police Department
• Bozeman Police Department
• Carbon County Sheriff’s Office
• Cascade County Sheriff’s Office
• Columbus Police Department
• Dawson County Sheriff’s Office
• Havre Police Department
• Helena Police Department
• Hill County Sheriff’s Office
• Lake County Sheriff’s Office
• Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office
• Meagher County Sheriff’s Office
• Missoula County Sheriff’s Office
• Missoula Police Department
• Musselshell County Sheriff’s Office
• Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office
• Rosebud County Sheriff’s Office
• Sidney Police Department
Law enforcement agencies still seeking grant funding for reimbursement of costs incurred this calendar year to replace their marijuana-certified canines are able to apply for a $10,000 portion of the remaining $120,000. Applications must be submitted to the department for the second round of grant funding by Nov. 5.