by Mike Sharkey
Starting in mid-Janaury, every City employee will be required to wear an identification badge. Considering the events of Sept. 11 and the ripple effects the terrorist attacks have had on security concerns in the United States, mandating City workers to wear an ID badge should come as no surprise.
The reality is, requiring City employees to wear identification has been in the works for a long time and was going to become standard procedure by June 2002, attacks or not.
Bill Marshall, manager of personnel services, said the City is in the process of installing a new Oracle HRIS (Human Resources Information System) system that will be completely online by mid-July. The new system will assign all of the City’s 5,000 employees a new ID number and also requires a digital photo of the employee. The IDs will simply incorporate those elements into a badge that all City employees will have to wear whenever they are at City Hall.
“With what has gone on recently, they have asked us to accelerate the process a little,” said Marshall.
No one is exempt from the ID badges and that includes the mayor’s office.
“He [Mayor John Delaney] is scheduled to have his picture taken,” said Marshall. “Sam Mousa [the City’s chief administrative officer] already had his taken.”
City employees have until Dec. 5 to get their picture taken and they will start wearing the badges as soon as they are issued. The sooner they smile for the camera, the sooner they will be issued their badges. No matter how long some wait, Marshall said everyone should be wearing them by mid-January.
The reaction around City Hall is fairly positive. City Council vice president Suzanne Jenkins said she has no problem with wearing a badge, but posing for pictures is way down on her list of things to do.
“That’s the only part I hate,” she said. “I hate taking pictures. I don’t have a problem doing it [wearing the ID badge] if it’s for the good on the whole. I’m not going to fuss about it.”
Jenkins also thinks that having everyone at City Hall wear an ID badge, especially elected officials, will help confirm to the public that City Hall is a safe and secure place.
“The public expects us to do something that assures that when they come to this building there is some element of safety,” said Jenkins. “If that means ID’ing us and our employees, I’m not going to fuss.”
Heather Patterson, the administrative assistant to Council member Lynette Self, has no problem with the badges, with one little stipulation, though.
“I have no issues with that,” said Patterson. “Under the circumstances, it’s justified, as long as my picture turns out good.”
Kristi Miller, the administrative aid to Brad Thoburn, director of intergovernmental affairs, and Mark Middlebrook, executive director of the Preservation Project Jacksonville, said the new system will be a good way to discern City employees from members of the public.
“I think it’s a great security measure,” said Miller. “There are people walking around City Hall in every day clothes who are City employees and there are people in City Hall dressed that way that aren’t City employees. By being here, they could misrepresent themselves as City employees, so I think it’s good.”