Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $10,590)
The Bemidi Police Department seeks to implement a drug detection canine program. The City of Bemidji is the largest city in northwest Minnesota, and is considered an urban regional center that draws people from more than 100 miles away for employment, education, healthcare, government services and retail. Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College campuses are in the city. The largest sovereign American Indian Reservation in the Midwest – the Red Lake Nation is located just north of our city and two additional American Indian Reservations neighbor the City of Bemidji on each side, Leech Lake Reservation to the east and White Earth Reservation to the west. As the regional hub, the City of Bemidji has seen a significant increase in violent crime over the last five years which has coincided with the explosion of heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine that has saturated our region. The Bemidji Police Department is an active member of the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force (PBDTF). The PBDTF has seen a 28,500% increase in the seizure of heroin/fentanyl and a 12,500% of methamphetamine within the last 10 years. Although, the opioid epidemic has exploded in our city and neighboring tribal communities with more than 200 overdoses and nearly 100 deaths in the last 5 years, methamphetamine is still the most abused substance in our area. The Bemidji Police Department, along with the PBDTF, have worked diligently to decrease the amount of illegal narcotics in our area. However, as the demand for fentanyl in our communities has exploded, drug cartels have increased their transportation frequency and amounts to our area. Our patrol interdiction and task force investigations are limited and would be significantly enhanced by a drug detection canine. The drug detection canine will assist officers and PBDTF agents during drug investigations where the narcotics are hidden in vehicles during transport and in homes where sales or redistribution to tribal lands occur.