BOZEMAN - The Bozeman Police Department’s force grows by one, with four paws and a tail. K9 Officer Braden Peterson has become a K9 Handler, gaining a partner in ‘Stretch’.
Stretch joins the Bozeman Police Department, following their application for the Department of Justices’ K9 grant, issued back in August of this year.
Officer Braden Peterson is Stretch’s handler and has been waiting for nearly four years to be trained as a K9 handler, and the opportunity to be partnered with a K9 unit.
“I’m hoping for a lot of drug intervention, that’s what I want to do with him. We have a lot of drugs going through Bozeman,” Peterson said, “He’s kind of a key to unlock us access to search things.”
Following Stretch’s search, officers can then move forward with the search warrant process.
Attorney General Austin Knudsen’s grant program was introduced back in August, in an effort to crackdown on illegal drugs in the state and to address those K9s trained to detect marijuana.
“With all the technology we have these days, computers and sensors, there’s still nothing better than detecting narcotics than a dog’s nose,” Attorney General Austin Knudsen said.
Bozeman Police Department applied for the grant, when their last K9 unit, Roman, entered retirement, and they were limited to only one dog for both shifts. Two dogs are the standard amount for the department, allowing one K9 to work the dayside while the other works the night side.
Peterson went through training prior to meeting Stretch and noted his cautiousness when meeting his partner for the first time.
“He was pretty loyal to his previous trainer…you never know what they’re going to think of you so everything was slow…when I took him home, there were a lot of belly rubs,” Peterson said.
K9 Officer Stretch was ‘recruited’ into training from a local pound by a Helena trainer. As a German Shepard Malinois Mix, plenty of homes seek these dogs out as puppies but soon realize the energy and drive these dogs have, Peterson said.
This mix creates the ideal working dog, with their high toy and ball drive. During drills, a small amount of narcotics will be placed in a building, and the K9 Officer will be released. As they begin to sniff the surroundings they will ‘lock on’ to the derivative or compound of that drug and key in on its location. Following the find, their handler will reward them with a quick game of fetch and plenty of praise.
Stretch is two-years-old, and the hope is for him to serve the Bozeman community for the next seven years.