LEWISTOWN — On Tuesday afternoon, Lewistown Police Department K-9 officer Shark was busy putting his nose to work, sniffing around the department's training room, as he awaited the arrival of Gov. Greg Gianforte.
"He works hard. He has a lot of demand upon him. He doesn't live the life of a normal dog, a house dog or anything, which can be hard and challenging. He's a working dog, so he's constantly working,” said Senior Patrol Officer Michael Patterson.
The governor presented Shark and the K-9 unit with the Spirit Of Montana Award, something the governor created when he took office.
"We solicit folks. When they find people doing exceptional things, we'd love to hear about them. They can suggest them on the governor's website,” Gianforte said. "Then we get to travel the state. I fly a flag in front of the state capitol and we come out and honor them in the communities."
Shark joined the police department after the community raised funds for a K9 unit to improve public safety. Since that time, Shark has had 27 deployments and has been involved in 167 drug investigations, leading to 110 citations and arrests.
“When most people think of Lewistown, they often comment how life can be lived a little slower than most places in the nation," Chief of Police Justin Jenness said. "However, Lewistown in not immune to the devastating effects of illegal drugs, and that is why the Lewistown Police Department implemented a K9 program in January 2021. Our community stepped up when called upon, and enough funds were raised to start the K9 program in Central Montana. We are forever grateful for the community support and strive each day to keep drugs off our streets, with the goal of keeping Lewistown one of the last best places in Montana.”
"We're getting an enormous amount of drugs off the street and we have goals to continue to drive that process and get even more," Patterson said.
If you’d like to nominate someone for the Spirit of Montana Award, click here.