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New Great Falls K9 will play vital role in internet crime investigations

Posted at 9:32 PM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 23:32:41-04

GREAT FALLS- The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office is welcoming a new member to the team.

The new member will be an electronic detection K9.

“From a public safety standpoint, this dog is going to be a huge addition to our office and a huge bonus for our community,” Sheriff Jesse Slaughter said.

“After we joined the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and Detective Creech was selected as our investigator, this was kind of the next natural step to have a tool during the searches that we do on residences for child pornography or children that we rescue in human trafficking cases, that we have the ability to find the necessary evidence,” Slaughter said.

Added Detective Angel Creech: “When we do searches at residences, there’s a lot of things that we can miss. If it’s your home, you can hide anything that you want in places that I might not find. The dog has the ability to sniff out minute odor, so we don’t miss anything.”

The K9 will be able to find electronic devices such as SD cards and laptops.

“There is a chemical found in electronic devices. It’s a standard chemical that’s found in SD cards, micro SD cards, and laptops. That’s the odor that the dog is trained to detect,” Creech said.

Its main priority will be to investigate ICAC, but the dog will be used for other investigations such as homicides, drug-related cases, and even jail searches.

“Not only are we going to crack down on internet crimes against children, and human trafficking but other crimes. Digital evidence in used in almost every crime now. Whether that’s a homicide or drug case, those are other things that we will possibly use the dog for as well. But we need to remember the primary reason we got the dog was to protect our children and protect trafficking victims. We take that very seriously,” Slaughter said.

It’s the first dog in Montana with this ability. Slaughter said depending on the level of investigation, they will send the dog and Detective Creech to other counties to assist.

The name, gender and type of dog is unknown at this time. The dog will arrive in November.

Detective Creech will go through training that will teach her how to handle the dog. After that, there will be a period of time that will be dedicated to building a bond with the dog.

“When the dog is off duty, it will be a member of my family and a member of our office,” Creech said.

Neighborhood K9 Incorporated purchased the dog and Jordan Consulting is providing free training. Great Falls Exchange Club donated money for the dog and the local Human Trafficking Task Force is paying for Detective Creech’s trip to training. Skyline Veterinary Clinic is providing free services for the dog while North 40 is providing free food.

The Sheriff’s Office hopes to eventually have a K9 that can detect drugs.

“I’m super excited to say we have people in the community willing to donate money for that, so we are trying to see where we are at and how much we will have to fund on our own. We’re in the process of waiting on that right now,” Slaughter said.

The electronic detection K9 will be deployed on search warrants by the beginning of 2020.

“It’s the future of crime in our world. The internet is fast, and it is the way people trade and do our commerce. They also do all their criminal activity as well,” Slaughter said.

“It’s the way to communicate. Kids are communicating with cellphones via apps. That’s how our kids are being targeted because that’s the primary source of communication. People don’t have face-to-face interactions as much as they used to anymore,” Creech said.

Story by Elizabeth Transue, MTN News