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Missoula sheriff’s deputies report recent violent DUI stops

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Nov 12 2013 10:27:35 PM MST
Updated On: Nov 12 2013 10:28:17 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Missoula sheriff's deputies report two men arrested for drunk driving in the last week turned violent -- so violent the officers could have been seriously injured.

Authorities say there's been a sudden jump in drinking and driving incidents.  When we checked the jail roster, 16 of 23 recent arrests were for alleged drunk driving.

We checked it out with the Missoula County DUI Task Force, and in 2010 alone, over 6,600 Missoula residents were cited for driving under the influence.

One man, Stephen Farley, was busted for drinking and driving Saturday night.  Deputies reported he was violent and reached for both deputies’ guns as he was being handcuffed.

Sheriff's Deputy Paige Pavalone tells us usually DUI investigations are completed without incident but that hasn't been the case lately.

“This person (Farley) fought with deputies when he was being placed under arrest and subsequently kicked three different deputies, and it was a situation that could have gotten pretty volatile,” she says.  “Two nights in a row, we had deputies engage in some pretty dangerous incidents out next to the highway.”

Larry Focher, battalion chief with the Missoula Fire Department, says fire personnel will respond to DUI scenes to provide medical assistance.

He tells NBC Montana even when they get the call someone is slumped over their steering wheel that personnel have to be cautious when approaching.

“If you can tell that they're drinking, smell it and everything like that and they're being real aggressive, we’re not policemen so we'll back off and try to secure the scene for police officers until they arrive,” Focher tells us.  “You never know if you are going to get punched or swung at, so we treat every unconscious patient with a little care and safety for ourselves.”

Pavalone says usually DUI investigations are completed without any incident.

Deputies are using the two incidents as a reminder that they need to stay safe, and that's why they always approach DUI stops with two patrol units.

As for the men who allegedly assaulted a peace officer -- if convicted, they will face a minimum of 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $50,000.