The first in a series of proposed security upgrades, City Hall employees are now wearing personal identification badges.
As of Tuesday, July 10, about 90 percent of City Hall employees and 80 percent of police and firefighters have been issued a new identification card, said police sergeant John Catone, who serves on the safety committee and coordinated the program to beef up security.
Every one of more than 400 full-time city employees, from the police and fire departments to City Hall and the Public Works Department, should have a card within a couple weeks, he said. Cards are not being issued to the city's 100-plus part-time employees, but Catone said the city will most likely issue part-time badges in the future.
Catone said he could not recall an incident in the past where a city employee's identity had come into question but, The city never had an identification system before.
The cards are designed by Linstar, a Rochester company that makes cards for many counties, municipalities and universities in the state of New York.
Information like identity and length of service is printed on the cards, as well as fingerprints. Police and fire have specialized cards in navy blue and red, respectively, with additional information like blood type to help save lives.
Catone could not elaborate on the security features specific to the cards, but did say that there were several.
He also said reproduction of the cards is nearly impossible, unlike with other identification cards. "People make driver's licenses left and right," he said.
"College kids can do it to buy beer."
Catone said information regarding the security card's hidden authenticity features is stored in only two places: at Linstar's Buffalo headquarters and on a laptop that stays with Catone or is locked in the police station.
"They're official," said city risk and safety manager Marilyn Rivers. "They can't be recreated."