|Graphic: Media Junkie|
A small-town Montana police chief was arrested Tuesday for allegedly growing marijuana in a barn near his residence.
Roosevelt County deputies arrested Poplar Police Chief Chad A. Hilde at his rural home north of Culbertson, Montana, reports Travis Coleman at the Great Falls Tribune. The chief is being charged with one felony count of “criminal production or manufacture of dangerous drugs,” and one misdemeanor count of “criminal possession of dangerous drugs.”
Chief Hilde, who faces up to 10 years in prison on the felony charge, has been placed on “administrative leave,” according to a dispatcher Monday at the Poplar Police Department. The police chief, who says the marijuana belonged to an authorized patient, said he planned to sue the Roosevelt County Sheriff.
A juvenile female runaway told Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Wallace on July 30 that Chief Hilde had marijuana growing in his barn, and that Hilde told her it was for medical purposes, according to an affidavit filed by acting Roosevelt County Attorney Steven Howard.
|Photo: Wotanin Wowapi Online|
Later that day, deputies went to Hilde’s home, where the police chief refused to allow them to search his barn, saying there was “nothing in it,” according to the affidavit.
While deputies waited for a search warrant, Hilde showed them a copy of someone named Kristofer Boyd’s medical marijuana card, along with a form requesting that Terry Boyd become Kristofer Boyd’s caregiver (grower).
Just who these two Boyds are — and the relationship of either or both of them to the police chief, and why Hilde had their medical documents — isn’t explained in court documents.
Chief Hilde is not blood-related to the Boyds, according to Roosevelt County Sheriff Freedom Crawford (got-dang, what a perfect name for a sheriff). The sheriff declined to elaborate on the exact nature of the personal relationship between the Boyds and the police chief.
Sheriff Crawford said the search was part of the department’s “Operation New Beginning,” launched in the spring of 2009, “to keep illegal drugs out of the community.”
|Photo: Casey Riffe/Billings Gazette|
|Roosevelt County Sheriff Freedom Crawford: The focus “is definitely not to target anyone specific”|
The sheriff said the focus “is definitely not to target anyone specific,” but rather to uncover people who are involved in trafficking, manufacturing, growing or selling illegal drugs in Roosevelt County, reports the Billings Gazette.
Hilde is not licensed under Montana’s medical marijuana law as either a patient or a caregiver, an official at the Montana State Division of Quality Assurance Licensure Bureau told Roosevelt County Criminal Investigator Tierra Erwin on July 30, according to court documents.
Erwin also found that Terry Boyd is neither a medical marijuana patient nor a caregiver. Kristofer Boyd has a medical marijuana card, court documents state.
Deputies executed a search warrant on Hilde’s property, where they found eight marijuana plants growing, as well as seeds, growing instructions, and “tools commonly used to grow and distribute marijuana,” according to court documents.
|Photo: Wotanin Wowapi Online|
|Poplar, Montana is located on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.|
In an e-mail sent to the Gazette, Hilde confirmed that the marijuana was growing on his property, reports Zach Benoit. The chief said he was letting a friend use the building to grow the pot, and that he knew that it was for medical purposes.
“The use was in compliance with the State of Montana Medical Marijuana Program and the qualified patient was entitled to possess the amount that was seized from the building,” the police chief wrote. “The Roosevelt County Sheriff was provided with this information at least five hours before he served the search warrant. I have retained an attorney to address the behavior of the Roosevelt County Sheriff.”
“I do find it hypocritical that a cop is growing marijuana, considering they arrest people for doing the same thing,” commented “MT cattle rancher” on the Gazette’s story.
“If it was legal and regulated like booze, this would not be a big deal; pot doesn’t cause very much harm to society,” MT said. “The vast majority of problems caused by pot are a direct result of its status as an illegal drug.”
Authorized medical marijuana patients can grow up to six plants, according to Montana law, and are allowed to possess up to an ounce of dried cannabis. Patients can also designate a caregiver to grow the marijuana for them.
In a separate case, Chief Hilde still faces eight felony counts related to the killing of four moose in July 2008. In that case, Hilde is accused of letting his 14-year-old son illegally shoot a young bull moose and three cows on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
When told that only enrolled members of the tribe could hunt on the reservation, Hilde responded, “I did not know,” reports Greg Tuttle of the Billings Gazette.
Poplar, the town where Hilde is police chief, is located on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and has about 1,000 residents.
He was arraigned before Judge Bruce Waldhausen in Culbertson, and was released after posting $10,000 bond.