Kalamazoo Co. rolling out photo ID program

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s something many of us probably take for granted: our drivers’ license or other kinds of picture ID. But what happens when you can’t get one?

Kalamazoo County is launching an ID program Thursday to help solve that problem.  

“We live in a society that normalizes the presence of an ID, but we also live in a society that doesn’t make the ID readily available to everyone for any number of different issues,” said Kalamazoo College professor Dr. Francisco Villegas, who serves as the ID advisory board chair.

He says homeless people or those coming out of prison are less likely to have access to state IDs.

“And one of the things that is interesting is the ways in which we sort of take for granted the process of our ID,” Villegas said. “That is, if you have small children and you need to pick them up from school, you often have to show your ID in order to do so. If you want your mail forwarded, you need to provide your ID. If you need to pick up prescription medication, you need to provide an ID.”

For $10, you can fill out a short application and get a picture ID from the county.

You’ll also have to prove your identity and residency in Kalamazoo County based on a point system that the sheriff’s office created.     

“The kind of program that we developed has been quite stringent,” Villegas said. “We worked with law enforcement in the county to develop the criteria to develop the method of getting the ID.”

You can also register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor.

Several Kalamazoo businesses have signed on to accept the ID or even give discounts to people who have a county ID.

>>Online: Businesses offering discounts

Kalamazoo College student Libby Munoz was the research coordinator for the ID program. She says everyone should get a county ID.

“It’s been described kind of as an emblem of community pride, where you can show it and just have pride in that you’re part of the Kalamazoo community,” she said.

The program is the third of its kind in the state.

The Kalamazoo ID Office is located on the first floor of the county administration building at 201 W. Kalamazoo Ave.

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