Campus Resource and CSPD Officer Jason Newton has a collection, one you probably don’t want to be a part of.
The top right drawer of the desk in his office on the fourth floor of the Spencer Center is filled with fake IDs from CC students; some 60, illegally forged public documents used to purchase alcohol. Now they have a new purpose: to train other local officers on how to pick them out.
The full array on his desk is impressive. Newton pulls two Ohio IDs to compare, one fake and one real.
“With a little bit of training, I can spot this from a mile away,” said Newton, highlighting the difference in the holograms. “…is a beer worth it?”
At the end of last academic year, students received an ominous e-mail from Newton and retired Director of Campus Safety Ron Smith – turn in your fake ID and face no charges, or don’t and face the law.
“Last year, a few students were caught by state liquor enforcement and CSPD officers and charged,” Newton said. “I was able to intervene in several cases and work on lowering the charges along with providing alternative sanctions. I did not want to see any student risk [his or her] future for a beer, so I worked with CC and we adopted a limited time reprieve if students were to turn in their fake IDs. I made the decision to send out the reprieve email, not as a scare tactic, but to help students avoid the pitfalls that come with obtaining a fake ID.”
There was another reason as well, however.
The FBI and Homeland Security were able to track the sales and shipments of fake IDs to colleges throughout the country, most notably at Seattle University where dozens of students faced criminal charges after their package, sent from infamous fake ID provider ID Chief, was intercepted by authorities.
Does Newton have a list from the FBI and Homeland Security too?
“I can’t say,” said Newton. “I have a confidential list of students names, but I can’t tell you where it came from.”
For any CC student who did not know, the act of obtaining a fake ID can be considered a federal and state offense, which can lead to felony or misdemeanor charges, said Newton.
Newton said that, if he had wanted to take action, dozens of students could have been charged with felonies, but he decided that a reprieve would be the best approach for everyone. According to Newton, it meant that he was enforcing the law by getting rid of the fake IDs, but students in turn avoided criminal charges.
Nicole Fagundo, Residential Life Coordinator for Mathias, said that students who turned in their IDs last year faced no charges.
“It was a great opportunity for students to turn in their fake IDs without any consequences,” Fagundo said.
Our new director of Campus Safety, Pat Cunningham, said that fake IDs are an issue on many campuses and students need to know the repercussions.
Paul York agrees.
“The problem wasn’t any different than what other campuses across the country deal with every year,” York said. “Students are ind. such an awkward position of believing that you have to drink to be cool and through that perception and peer pressure, students find irresponsible ways to fit in. Whether students are conscious of it or not, their motivation in buying a fake ID is to appear like they are in the cool crowd.”
Newton found out about the IDs from students.
“I received confidential information and was provided a list of students who purchased IDs online,” Newton said. “… I have already received information this year and encourage those students to hand over their IDs. Trust me, a beer is not worth it.“
Having a fake ID can lead to prison time, a fine, or both. Also, Newton said, students who purchase the IDs online can fall into issues with forgery, criminal possession of a forged instrument, and a number of other charges.
Newton is warning students for this year now.
“Already this year I have received information that a number of students have fake IDs or have recently purchased them,” Newton said. “So, to those students, I would strongly encourage [you] to turn them into me. They can contact me at CSPDOfficer@ColoradoCollege.edu or turn them into the Campus Safety Office.”
His message to students: it’s not worth it.
“Over the past two weeks, I have had several students turn their IDs in to me,” Newton said. “I will allow anyone to turn in their ID without any sanctions. The IDs are used to train new police officers and are destroyed after that. If a student chooses not to turn [his or her] ID in, and is caught using it, [he or she] will face criminal charges.”
Undercover officers will be patrolling local bars, hockey games at the World Arena, and nearby liquor stores, looking for underage drinkers trying to illegally purchase alcohol, according to Newton.
Ellie Cole and Jesse Paul
Staff Writer and News Editor