The Missoula Police Department’s (MPD) recent Comprehensive Strategic Alcohol Plan—a six-week “blitz” targeting underage drinking, DUIs, over-serving at bars, fake IDs and open containers—ended Oct. 12, but its impact will continue to be felt in the downtown bar scene.
Starting this week, the Rhino will be the first downtown bar to implement “i-Checked,” a state-of-the-art camera ID scanner system.
The “i-Checked” system takes a picture of each patron’s ID, as well as the person presenting the ID. That information is then recorded on DVR and logged.
“Law enforcement is basically forcing us to do this,” says Rhino co-owner Kevin Head. The bar received two compliance violations in less than two months as part of MPD’s blitz.
The “i-Checked” machines are manufactured by American Video Equipment and distributed in Missoula by Photoscan Northwest. Photoscan Northwest says the Rhino is the first and only local bar, so far, to order the “i-Checked.”
“We don’t want underage people in here any more than anybody else does,” says co-owner Brad Martens, who estimates the Rhino will pay almost $7,000 for the system. “They’ve [law enforcement] got to understand that we’re spending a lot of money on this and trying to do the best job we can.”
According to Martens, the Rhino has and will continue to send all of its servers to Training for Intervention Procedures, or TIPS, and to local law enforcement for classes on how to recognize fake IDs. But Martens feels the old-fashioned system of checking IDs isn’t enough.
“You build a trap and you get smarter mice, you know?” he says.
Missoula Police Lt. Shawn Paul stresses that local establishments have multiple options when it comes to how they guard against underage drinking. But he says “i-Checked” is “a good precaution to take.”
“We’re just asking them to check IDs properly,” says Paul.
Martens and Head understand that adjusting to the new system may take time and turn off some regulars, but stress that a change had to be made.
“We can’t afford to fool around anymore,” Martens says. “We’re still here for the consumer, we’re still all about fun and having a good time, but we’re just going to have to get a little tougher.”