MISSOULA – A career in law enforcement is one of the most stressful jobs you can find and those who wear the badge have to find a balance between the burden of the beat and the harmony of home life.
MTN News caught up with a Missoula County Sheriff’s Office captain who discovered peace and patience were right at his fingertips for this Salute the Badge report.
Captain Anthony Rio’s served for more than 20 years but he almost quit for good after a series of high stress and tragic cases including a confrontation with an armed bank robbery suspect.
“And I was just done. I just said I’m not coming back. I don’t like this job anymore so I’m going to do something else. I took time off and got my feet back out from under me," Capt. Rio recalled.
Law enforcement was always his dream growing up in Missoula. He served as a reserve deputy, then got hired on as a Great Falls police officer and eventually worked his way up to the rank of captain with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.
He’s been recognized for his work with domestic violence and DUI enforcement as well as for writing 1,000 tickets in one year for seat belt enforcement.
Capt. Rio has most recently he been the face of the Missoula flooding response, informing and reassuring the public, much like he did during the Rice Ridge fire in Seeley Lake last summer.
“I did about 70 days up in Seeley Lake during the fires. Folks that live up there, it’s such a tight-knit community. I was really concerned about coming in and being the face of the Sheriff’s Office," Capt. Rio said.
"But we just really wanted to show them that even the miles may separate us, they are still a part of Missoula County and we took what was going on very seriously," he added.
But the high demands of the job had Captain Rio looking for a way to unwind and that’s when he found peace through the piano. “I just started playing, just started playing like what comes to me, if you will.”
He taught himself how to play, mostly by ear. It’s his music that helps him communicate in a new way by composing his own melodies. “And it’s just, kind of, I don’t know, for lack of a better word, out of your heart. You can tell a lot about someone by the kind of music that comes out of them”
Capt. Rio has found a balance where he can express himself through music and help the citizens in the town he loves negotiate the difficult times in their lives when law enforcement is called, because that’s why he wears the badge.
“If we’re not there helping people who can’t help themselves, then this job really isn’t worth much more.”
Captain Rio says he’s compiling his music and might make a CD.