Representatives for the Human Rights Coalition (HRC) of Alachua County say there is a missing link preventing the Community ID Card program from succeeding.
Veronica Robleto, an immigrant rights paralegal with Florida Legal Services, told the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on Tuesday that the ID cards are accepted by the Gainesville Police Department (GPD), Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) and many other government agencies but the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) has yet to accept the card as a valid ID.
“The HRC ID provides card holders with a reliable form of identification that can be used as a tool by law enforcement, city departments, health centers, schools, businesses, and cultural arts organizations to better identify, serve, and protect us,” the HRC website states.
“The HRC ID card is available to any resident who may have limited access to government issued ID cards, as well as those who support safer, more inclusive and united communities,” the website explains.
Since the start of the ID program, more than 800 IDs have been issued by appointment and at ID card drives.
Robleto said ACSO Sheriff Clovis Watson initially agreed to allow the card to be accepted by ACSO deputies and staff had agreed to meet about taking steps to make that official.
Robleto said the HRC did meet with Watson in September 2021 and he, “Expressed support and committed to a follow up meeting.”
That meeting has not happened, Robleto reported.
She asked the BOCC to urge the sheriff to recognize the card and asked them to send a letter of support.
Before that happens, though, Commissioner Ken Cornell said he wants to reach out to Watson personally to check on the situation.
“I will certainly reach out to him after this meeting,” Cornell said.
According to ACSO spokesperson Capt. Kaley Behl the acceptance of the Community ID card is under evaluation.
“Several weeks ago, the PIO’s office received a request from the Human Rights Coalition to ask the Sheriff to look at whether or not we would consider accepting the Community ID Card as a valid form of identification,” she said, adding that the information was passed along for the sheriff to evaluate.
“The sheriff has the information and has assigned various staff to research and make recommendations,” Behl said. “We have not made a decision on this issue as of yet. As soon as this evaluation is complete and Sheriff Watson makes a decision, we will get back with the Human Rights Coalition to inform them of our decision.”
The next drive for issuing community IDs will happen on Feb. 12 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church at 1521 NW 34th Street in Gainesville.
Requirements to receive a card include providing proof of identity, address, and age. The complete list of procedures is on the HCR website.
One community member addressed the BOCC thanking them for the program and said she uses her ID card to pick up her children from school, to enroll them in summer camp as well as take part in community programs.