BILLINGS — Officer Nathan Contreraz is the newest Billings police canine unit handler for K9 Tabasco.
Contreraz has been an officer for nearly eight years, the last four with the Billings Police Department.
He said he wanted to mix it up and do something a little different.
For the last two weeks, Contreraz and Tabasco have been taking on different scenarios, such as searching vehicles, houses and various rooms. All are situations a K9 officer team might encounter.
The city has seen an increase in violent crimes, and Billings police say the rise is associated with drug use.
There is a need for more K9 handlers, and Contreraz says being a canine unit officer gives him more of an opportunity to get involved in the push to stop drug crime in Billings.
"If we didn't have K9s, we would be missing a lot. There are so many times when we have odors of drugs inside or we might lead us to believe that there is something inside and by having those K9s, and to take them and run them on the vehicles and get that alert and get those cars really helps us out to be able to get more drugs off the street."
The one thing that Contreraz said he didn't expect about the new position so far is how physically demanding it is.