By Michael Howell
Just two out of 23 businesses tested in the valley failed in the latest round of alcohol compliance checks conducted by the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office and the Hamilton Police Department. That’s good news, according to DUI Task Force Coordinator Glenda Wiles.
The DUI Task Force funds the program in which under aged recruits are sent into establishments that sell alcohol and, using their own IDs, attempt to purchase some of the products.
“Most businesses comply, but often several don’t,” said Wiles, “This time only two failed the test. That’s good.” The two to fail the most recent checks were the Stevensville Mini Market and the Connor Market. None of the eight stores checked in Hamilton failed the compliance check this time around.
Wiles said that along with the Cops in the Shops program, the Responsible Alcohol Sales and Services training program offered to local business owners is to be credited for the low violation rate. The RASS program is a free training program that teaches how to properly serve alcoholic beverages and how to avoid over serving customers by recognizing the signs of inebriation and by monitoring how much patrons are drinking. The Cops in the Shops program pays to have officers placed in establishments to partner with the business owners by watching transactions and offering tips and aid for their efforts at compliance.
This time, according to Wiles, Detective Steven Murphy of the Hamilton Police Department and Sheriff’s Deputy Todd Wofford served in the checks. Officers are paid overtime by the DUI Task Force with federal grant funds. Wiles said she also likes to see the underage recruits compensated as well.
“It’s obvious to me that it’s working,” said Wiles. “These are good numbers.”
Additional RASS trainings will be offered by WMAS Prevention Programming on March 20, April 19, May 8 and 17 and June 19. Any community members who are not yet certified are welcome to attend and newly hired employees may take the training within 60 days of hire. The training is offered from 9 a.m. to noon at 209 N. 10th, Suite C in Hamilton and there is a $15 materials fee. Preregister at 532-9140.