Local police will soon be keeping track of bar and private club employees through fingerprints, mug shots and background checks under a new city ordinance that also requires employees to carry police-issued identification cards.
It is not clear, however, whether authorities will be able to keep people from working in a bar or a private club by denying them the identification card, which will be required after July 31.Other cities along the Wasatch Front, including Murray and West Valley City, as well as Salt Lake County, do require some form of identification card for employees of bars and private clubs.
Unlike the Sandy ordinance, however, ordinances in those cities and in the county spell out the reasons why applicants can be turned down for an identification card and how they can appeal the decision.
The Sandy ordinance refers only to registering with the police department, although Sandy Police Sgt. Terry Pepper said applicants for an identification card would be subject to a background check for prior arrests and outstanding warrants.
"We need to have an idea what type of people are working there," Pepper said, describing bars as "notorious for the illicit passing of drugs and so on."
If problems turn up in the background check, Pepper said police would consult with the city attorney's office before denying an identification card to an applicant. He said turning down an applicant would be a judgment call.
"There are no hard-and-fast rules," Pepper said. "We don't want any (firm rules) for several reasons. One, the lawsuits that would be coming down." He also said some applicants with police records may no longer be involved in illegal activities.
But Robyn Blumner, executive director of the Utah Chapter, American Civil Liberties Union, said the lack of such rules means no one could be denied an identification card. After briefly reviewing the section of the ordinance dealing with the iden-tification cards, she said they appear to serve only a record-keeping function since no mention is made of how or why an applicant could be turned down.
Kathy Jeffery, the Sandy city attorney who drafted the ordinance, said she does not anticipate any problems arising from the omission. She said the criteria used to deny an identification card would be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Sgt. Brent Vincent of the Salt Lake County sheriff's office warned that Sandy will likely learn the hard way why other cities and the county include the criteria and an appeals procedure in their ordinances.
"The first one they turn down, they'll find out. People don't just turn around and walk out the door," Vincent said. "You can't just tell someone they can't have one."
The county will not issue an identification card to anyone who has been convicted of a felony or a crime such as prostitution, who is under 21 years of age or who has lied on his application. Similar guidelines are used by Murray and West Valley City.
Pepper said the ordinance was sought by the Sandy police department to give officers a starting point in investigating crimes that occur in bars and private clubs.
However, he was quick to add that Sandy's two bars and two private clubs are relatively trouble-free, although one of the bars was raided last December by the Metro Narcotics Strike Force. Several drug-related arrests were made and a gambling device was seized.
City Council Chairman Bruce Steadman said the city will spend $2,500 annually to issue approximately 60 identification cards. Part of that cost, about $1,500, will be recovered by charging applicants $25.
Steadman said the expense to the city is less than the cost of the crimes the process is expected to prevent. "We would spend the money on officers' calls anyway," he said.