Salute the Badge: Missoula officer prevents drunk driving, even - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Salute the Badge: Missoula officer prevents drunk driving, even off shift

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(MTN News Photo) (MTN News Photo)

This report is part of a special series of reports where we get to know our law enforcement and emergency responders on a more personal level.

This edition of "Salute the Badge" features a former newspaper editor turned Missoula patrol officer. While he helps prevent drunk driving while on shift, he also does his part to control it in his off time. 

Before ever putting on a badge, officer Ethan Smith recognized the need to help stop drunk driving. Ten years ago, he began teaching "Responsible Alcohol Service" to local bartenders, servers, and clerks in Lake County.

Once he took the job at Missoula Police Department seven years ago, he began teaching the course in Missoula. 

"The most important part of the program is that we really emphasize reducing alcohol-related problems in the community. Mainly drunk driving but also bar fights and underage drinking and things like that, which have a ripple effect in the problems that we in law enforcement face," Smith said. 

Smith says he's seen several DUI related deaths within the city limits since joining the force and believes the more confidence alcohol servers have in making good judgment, fewer alcohol-related crimes will result. 

"If I can help bartenders and servers do their job better, and get people home safely. That's the main focus of the course. And I really enjoy building relationships with those employees around the community that we interact with regularly as police officers as well," Smith said. 

Smith teaches hundreds of servers and bartenders every year and says responsible alcohol service starts at the top with good management. 

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