The Anaconda-Deer Lodge Police Department has a new K9 unit, Officer Ives and Officer Leo.
"I’ve always wanted to do it. When I became a police officer about, I’d say, four and a half years ago—almost five years, and I always wanted to be a police officer. I always wanted to be a K9 officer," said Matthew Ives, K9 officer for the Anaconda-Deer Lodge Police Department.
Thanks to strong community support, Officer Ives was able to travel to Ohio and train with Leo for two weeks. Leo has been training to be a police dog since he was two months old. Now 16 months old and one month into his job, Leo has been deployed twice to sniff out the scene.
"They were successful. He did awesome. They were on vehicles—both vehicles I did stops on and of course the state of Montana when we use Leo, the canine, he’s a tool, he’s to get probable cause," said Ives.
Leo is trained to sniff out narcotics like methamphetamine, crack cocaine, heroin, and mushrooms.
"For our community here in Anaconda, we are seeing methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is huge around here. Fentanyl is starting to kind of pick up," said Ives.
Ives and Leo train every day for at least two hours to keep his skills and nose sharp. Ives is also planning to take Leo to train with the Missoula County sheriff’s department every Wednesday.
Ives says he plans to have Leo as his partner for a long time and wants to train his partner as a tracking dog for missing-person cases in the future.
"It’s been great, the support’s been huge so it’s going to be an asset to our community big time," said Ives.