Checking IDs is important in every community

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 4/28/99.

When a person goes shopping in a larger metropolitan community, they automatically pull out their ID upon writing a check or using their credit card.

However, many people in their hometown don't think the need is there to check IDs. People become offended when asked to show their ID when purchasing groceries, buying gas, or paying for items at local stores.

The need to check IDs is becoming more and more a standard routine in stores across the state.

"People should be happy when they have their ID checked," Tony Schmitt, Paynesville Police Chief, said. "Clerks don't know everybody in town!"

Schmitt stressed that many people don't realize that it's the employees neck on the line if they accept a bad check or sell something to a minor. It is the employee who takes a bad check, that has to testify in court. Or it is the employee who sells to a minor that faces a gross misdemeanor charge and has to make a court appearance.

"The police can't prosecute an individual for passing a bad check if the clerk never checked their ID first," Schmitt said. Schmitt described a bad check as one with no money, forged, or account closed.

Schmitt cited a recent incident in which someone purchased $150 worth of cigarettes with a bad check. "There was no picture on their ID and the person was from out of town," Schmitt said. "Those two factors should have sent up warning signals to the clerk."

Policies on checking IDs vary from store to store in Paynesville, Schmitt said. At the first of the year, Wally's G&T posted little notes by each cash register stating:

"To our customers...On occasion when writing or cashing a check we may need to ask to see your driver's license. Please don't feel offended. We don't always know all our customers. It is a necessary protective measure for both of us. Thank you for your cooperation. Wally's G&T."

A store employee at Wally's G&T, said people often get huffy when they are asked to present their ID.

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