Skagway, Alaska city officials decided to create their own system for identifying personnel and village citizens. Photo cards identify police officers, fire department personnel, city chauffeurs, senior citizens, bicycle licenses and more in the Alaskan port city.

The city of Skagway, Alaska served as a gateway to the Gold Rush in 1898, and is today a popular port destination for cruise ships. Skagway may be a relatively small city with a population of 890, but security is still a priority for its government agencies. That’s why city officials chose a card printer to create identification badges.


Because the city sits on the Canadian border, the cards provide a convenient second form of identification for Skagway officials who need to cross the border on official business. The ID cards are also used by Skagway police officers who need to fly with firearms on commercial airlines for business purposes. The Transportation Security Agency provides the police department with a special logo that is placed on the back of the identification cards to denote that the person holding the card is legally authorized to travel with a firearm. The logos can only be used for certain police personnel.
The photo identification cards are also used to identify Skagway’s senior citizens, who do not have to pay sales tax on food items at the local grocery store. The card is designed to set those over the appropriate age to be identified and not charged the sales tax. The ID card system has simplified the identification process.
“We use the printer to create identification cards for police officers, fire department personnel and other city employees,” said Sheryl Gladden, police clerk for the Skagway Police Department. “All the people who drive tour vehicles that are not considered by state standards to be commercial vehicles need city-issued chaffeur permits as well.”

Bicycle Rodeo Puts Printer to Test

One of the Skagway Police Department’s favorite community events is the Annual Bicycle Rodeo, which Gladden describes as basically a fun bicycle safety class.
“All the kids bring their bikes to the rodeo and have them checked by bicycle mechanics,” Gladden explained. “The bikes have lights and reflectors installed if they don’t already have them, and are checked thoroughly for any other issues such as loose chains and proper fit. Then they are repaired if needed.”
The children are then issued a helmet and proceed to an obstacle course that is similar to a driver education course, but set up for bicycles. Two bicycle patrol officers teach the children about safety issues and test them out on the course. Once they have finished, they are issued a bicycle license.
“Afterwards, they go out in groups with an adult leading on the real road and practice the things they learned on the course,” Gladden explained. “Then they all meet at a designated spot for a barbecue, and after that to the local ice cream shop. If they show their bicycle license at the ice cream shop, they get a free ice cream cone.”
The bicycle rodeo doesn’t just put children to the test; it also tests the Zebra P420i printer to see that it is up for the challenge of rapid ID printing.
“The Bicycle Rodeo cards all have to be made in a short amount of time,” Gladden said. “We hook the printer up to a laptop and one person takes pictures while I work the Alpha Card program and print the cards. The kids love watching the whole process.”

The Skagway Police Department issued about 55 cards in less than two hours at its most recent Bicycle Rodeo. Even parents wanted their own bicycle licenses, Gladden said.
Overall, Gladden estimated that she and two other staff members print about 150 cards each year with the ID printer, which simplifies card printing. Gladden performed the initial setup, and is the primary person who uses the printer.
“It’s definitely helped our operations and the city’s,” Gladden said, “and it’s also helped the grocery store be able to quickly identify senior citizens.”
The Skagway Police Department is considering adding encoded barcode functionality to the cards in the future, so that fire department personnel can be checked in and out when they respond to incidents. The Skagway Fire Department is largely a volunteer operation, making it more difficult to track personnel.