The Time Is Now to Change The ID Game
Kids With Phony ID’s Need To be Accountable
By William Legault
The arrest of a young woman from Marblehead last week which resulted in a Salem Police Officer having had half of her ear bitten off has provoked some public debate. Some of that debate is timely and relevant and some of it just judgmental foolishness from apparently perfect people who should, but seem to not know better.
Having spent more than thirty years actually examining various forms of identification while working in the hospitality industry I will say that it has never been more difficult to tell the real licenses from the fake licenses. Anybody with a few hundred dollars can buy a perfect facsimile on-line. They are made by overseas companies, usually in Asia who buy personal information from many sources, including companies who compile mailing lists. This information is then put onto a magnetic strip and matched up with the photograph of the buyer with software that duplicates a license or an ID perfectly, to include security features like holograms. These companies stay up to date on what each state is doing with their identification cards. The race for information is continuous and the bad guys are always a step ahead.
The current basic ID scanner does not match up photos with information, it only verifies that the information on the magnetic strip is accurate as to age. It is basically just for show. There are more advanced, and much more expensive scanners out there, that require a laptop. These units do a much better job. They can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 depending on the software. They work quite well but are still not guaranteed to be 100% accurate. The only place in Salem that has one, to our knowledge is Murphy’s Restaurant & Bar . It is interesting that they have this unit, use this unit, and as a result have a huge collection of phony identification yet are seen by many as a place that does not do the right thing. No matter what any business does the deck is stacked because the people who should be punished with the most severity are actually punished the least.
The problem is not easy to solve, but a simple step in the right direction would be for the cities and state to start holding the young person who has the phony ID full and legally accountable. Enforce the law which can be inclusive of both a fine and potential jail time. Holding the business responsible is fine, within reasonable limits but it is the person with the ID who has committed the real crime here. A slap on the wrist is no longer appropriate.
It would also be nice if the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would do their job and take old ID’s from the people who get new ones. For some odd reason, probably associated with storage and destruction costs, the State no longer does this. It is not unusual for a young Massachusetts resident to have two or even three licenses in their wallet, sometimes they are even from other states. Those old ID’s either stay in a wallet, or perhaps get passed on to cousin Bif or younger sister Buffy. How easy is it for a 22-year old to claim that they lost their ID, then get a new one?
Social media, of which we here are a part has also had a ball with this subject. It is nice to see so many people judge not only the young woman, but her family, and the business involved. It was especially amusing to see a local owner of another business that serves liquor weigh in with a judgment on the business involved. No mater how diligent a business and their staff may be, they have ALL over served at one point or another and also been victim to the phony ID routine. The glass house adage applies here for everybody, but especially for business owners. Let the process play out before deciding who is right and who is wrong.
In the end, the responsibility lies with the person who procured and used the illegal identification. If an employee of the business was aware that the person was underage, then that employee is equally responsible and should be held accountable. The business, whose mistake was hiring someone unreliable also has culpability but not at the same level. If the proper protocols were not in place then the business has additional culpability and the punishment should be appropriate.
The young lady from Marblehead needs to be held fully accountable for both the injuries to our police officer and possession of criminally falsified identification, especially since her own social media accounts provide photographs of her and other underage friends drinking inside the business in question. If any employee of the business is found to have been aware that she was underage, then he or she must also pay the appropriate price.