POLICE Magazine

MAY 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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26 POLICE MAY 2019 As libraries adapt and expand their services for their communities, we see them trying to be more inclusive, open, and accepting of all kinds of citizens, many of whom have specific or special needs. is can include offering literacy programs for people who cannot read or write at a functional level; LGBTQ programs for minors and adults strug- gling with their sexual identities; im- migration support services for undoc- umented people; story time for little kids, where they learn to read and love books; programs that assist the elder- ly with computer literacy, their taxes, or other life issues; legal aid services; teens helped with homework; family movie nights; writing and publishing workshops; and local or national author events. City and county libraries put a lot of effort and thought into how they can stay relevant by providing a living, changing space that is about more than just books and magazines. Besides the assortment of actual and potential criminals listed at the begin- ning of this article, lots of normal and nice people go to the local library: kids with their parents; retired or elderly folks; K-12 and college students doing research or homework; citizens and vis- itors looking for help and information; teachers and their classes; and people of all ages and interests who want a quiet, safe place to read, use the Inter- net, watch online videos, or rent DVDs, records, and books. But like many ex- amples in police work, the good people using the library need your protection from the problem people who invade the library. PROTECTION FROM THE PROBLEM PEOPLE Sitting in my office nearly 20 years ago, I received a call from a grant-funded state training organization that special- ized in library programs. ey asked, "Can you teach your workplace violence prevention workshop to people who work in libraries?" I said, "What could possibly be going on in a public library where you'd need a safety and security guy like me?" is began my education about what goes on in libraries and who causes the majority of the problems in- side them. As I taught my half-day workshop, "Library Security: Dealing With Chal- lenging Patrons," around the country, I heard many stories from library staffers about problematic people doing scary, dangerous, violent, stupid, and irritating things, putting the employees and oth- er normal patrons at risk. As you might expect, I always asked about the police response to their libraries for crimes in progress, but also about their experi- ence getting extra patrols. e answers I got back ranged along a spectrum of service and support from, "e police or sheriff's department come if we call them using 911, but they never just come by to make sure we're safe" to "e po- PHOTO: GET T Y IMAGES Crooks at Your Local Library L et's describe a place where certain types of people go and see if you can guess where it is. is building is visited by gang members, the homeless, the mentally ill, the drug and alcohol addicted, opiate overdosers, pedophiles, gun and knife carriers, thieves, vandals and taggers, dope dealers, child pornography enthusiasts, flashers, gropers, stalkers, and domestic violence perpetrators. If you guessed the county jail you'd be wrong. It's the library, and it's actually worse than you might think. PUBLIC LIBRARIES HAVE BECOME HAVENS FOR A VAST ASSORTMENT OF PEOPLE, MANY OF WHOM ARE ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL CRIMINALS. Steve Albrecht

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