BRAINERD – The Brainerd Police Department held responsible beverage service training on Thursday, March 10, in an effort to reduce the number of impaired drivers on the road in the Brainerd Lakes area through several programs.
Shawn Hansen, beverage service liaison responsible for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, introduced the train-the-trainer program, which revamped training in May 2021 after the expiration of the National Transportation Safety Board grant from the previous program.
“The program aims to educate and provide tools to those involved in the alcohol industry to reduce the number of accidents, minors served and to help bars and liquor stores protect their customers and themselves. same,” Hansen said.
The state-run program focuses on the train-the-trainer aspect because Hansen would not be able to cover the needs of the entire state. The aim is to facilitate the program through local entities by training them to teach the course to their community.
Brainerd Deputy Police Chief John Davis said the department has been involved with the program since 2016 and has been offering classes to area facilities ever since.
“We really encourage them, not just for the education, but to build that relationship and that partnership to help make their businesses and our community as healthy as possible,” Davis said.
Along with the training, Davis said the Brainerd Lakes Region is working on a program to provide a safe transportation alternative for people who have been to a bar or restaurant and, after drinking alcohol, need another way to get home.
Davis said the Better Bar Safe Ride program is a project of the Brainerd Lakes Toward Zero Deaths coalition. Plans call for the pilot program this summer with a focus on Brainerd’s downtown bar district, as it has one of the highest concentrations of bars and restaurants in the county.
“Once we have it somewhat established, we will expand it not only to the rest of Brainerd, but to Baxter County and Crow Wing, with the entire area as an end goal,” Davis said.
Although the program is still in development, Davis said they have partnered with Brainerd Area Taxi to provide transportation. Brainerd Community Action has agreed to work with the program as a 501(c)(3) fundraising agent.
Organizers are working to establish funding for the program, Davis said, including grants and a community fund in partnership with local liquor establishments.
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