Disney Employees Object to Police Screenings

February 26, 2001 12:00 am

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ANAHEIM, CA — Anaheim police are under fire for requiring bartenders, janitors and other employees of alcohol-selling establishments to carry city-issued identification cards as well as provide officers with fingerprints and personal information, the Los Angeles Times reported.

According to the Times, a city ordinance requiring the ID cards has been on the books since 1965.

But officials said an influx of new jobs — many related to Disney’s resort expansion — has prompted them to “re-educate” area businesses about the rules.

The ordinance requires employees to complete an application asking about their citizenship and arrest history, and whether they have any marks or scars. The employees are also fingerprinted and photographed at the Police Department.

Union officials said they didn’t know about the law until a few weeks ago, when they began getting complaints from workers, who decried the requirements as unfair and a violation of their rights.

“Why do we need an ID card to sell a glass of chardonnay?” said Alastair Baird, 36, an employee at Disneyland’s exclusive Club 33 who said he was frisked by police officers before being fingerprinted at the jail. “I’m just a waiter, and it felt like a criminal process.”

An attorney for the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union has asked the Anaheim City Council to rescind the ordinance at its meeting next Tuesday and was joined by other groups in denouncing the ID cards.

“It gives police unbridled discretion to crack down on people they don’t like,” said Dan Tokaji, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

“This is not a police state,” he added. “You don’t have to have an identification card to live, work and enjoy the benefits of freedom in our country.”

Those who do not have the laminated ID card are guilty of a misdemeanor and could be fined. In addition, some employers have threatened to fire workers who do not have the card, said union spokesman John Earl.

Police deny that they are attempting to gather intelligence and emphasized that the information will simply be kept on file in case it is needed as part of a criminal investigation.

Many employees have decided not to get ID cards until the issue is resolved with the city.

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