The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association (MCOPA) and the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs unveiled a new credential being carried by the police officers of Massachusetts. The new ID cards are of uniform design and utilize features that thwart tampering and counterfeiting.
Massachusetts law requires that every city and town issue identification cards to its full-time police officers, who are required to carry the card and exhibit it upon lawful request. However, there has never before been a standard for the design of the card leaving police departments to come up with their own. Additionally, most police ID cards had no security elements so counterfeit cards could conceivably be made using off-the-shelf printers and software.
The lack of uniform, secure credentials posed several security and public safety problems. Security personnel at courthouses and other protected buildings had no streamlined way to validate identification shown by police officers carrying firearms, and citizens had no way of authenticating whether a person stopping them or demanding to be let into their home was actually a police officer. It is not uncommon for people to commit crimes by posing as police officers.
Police departments actually began issuing the new credentials last year but MCOPA did not announce the program until now. Police chiefs did not want to draw attention to a security vulnerability until it had been corrected. To date, cards have been issued to 13,000 police officers statewide.
The cards are ordered and manufactured using a secure system. The vendor, MorphoTrust USA Inc., provides identity solutions and services in all 50 states and D.C., including Massachusetts. The company provides complete solutions for government-issued IDs, such as driver licenses and passports, as well as for border management, public safety, law enforcement, aviation, retail, banking and employee/applicant vetting.
Some of the security features of the new ID are covert, and known only to the police, while others are overt. Perhaps the most significant security feature, and the one already familiar to Massachusetts drivers, is the Kinegram(r), an Optical Variable Device used on the commonwealth's drivers' license. The colors and images of the device change as the card is rotated. If a citizen sees a police ID that does not have a Kinegram(r) like the one on their own license, the card has not been issued as part of the program. Permission to use the Massachusetts Kinegram(r) was granted by Registrar of Motor Vehicles Rachel Kaprielian. The cards have a tamper-resistant laminate and other overt security features include overlapping data and a ghost image in the lower right corner. Each card is serial numbered so that a lost or stolen card can be entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
The back of every card attests that the bearer is a law enforcement officer as defined by federal law. Since 2004, law enforcement officers have been empowered to carry firearms outside their own state provided that they carry photo identification issued by their departments.
The cost of the first card issued to each police officer is paid using federal homeland security funding. Cards for new officers and officers who have been promoted cost $9.50 each. Because the cards are produced centrally by MorphoTrust USA, police departments do not need to purchase cameras, card stock, laminate, or printer materials. Previously, such systems cost departments $2,000 to $3,000 each.
Citizens who want to learn more about the new Massachusetts police ID card can visit a website, MassPoliceID.com. The website shows what an authentic ID should look like, explains the card's security features and has a video about the cards. The site also contains a printable flyer for security screeners at venues where the carrying of firearms by civilians is prohibited. The website, MassPoliceID.com, was generously donated by Boston Web Designers, a division of MBA Team, Inc.