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Massachusetts Library Hires Retired Police to Patrol

Massachusetts Library Hires Retired Police to Patrol

Trustees’ spokesperson Tracy Davis said that at least one officer will be on duty during all times the library is open to the public. Davis said that the security schedules are coordinated to provide officer coverage for all 59 ½ hours of the library’s weekly schedule.

Sawyer Free Library’s Board of Trustees is hiring six former police officers—most of whom retired from the Gloucester Police Department—to patrol for safety, security and peacekeeping, according to the Gloucester Times.

Library Board of Trustees President John T. Brennan told the Gloucester Times that the addition of the safety officers is set to begin on Feb. 5 as part of the library’s safety and security expansion project.

"We're taking library safety very, very seriously," Brennan said, "and this is part of our expression of that.”

Other safety and security upgrades for the library include staff training with city police, property checks by the Gloucester Police Department and an updated surveillance camera system. Among the new security measures is a requirement that anyone seeking to use the restroom must show a library card.

"We continue to strive to strike a balance between offering a broad open door policy for all community members and ensuring a safe, secure environment," Brennan added in a statement.

Ensuring safety and security at the library has become a priority in the last few years, especially as drug-related activity has increased. Reports of police action in the area of the library often involve the recovery of discarded hypodermic needles inside and outside of the facility and the use of the building as somewhat of a shelter when other public buildings are closed.

The issue of drug-related activity came to a head on Oct. 15, when police summoned by library staff arrested two men accused of making a heroin deal in the men’s room adjacent to the children’s room at the library. One of the men is also accused of using the drug in the restroom. This incident led to the facility requiring a library card to gain access to the restroom.

Brennan said that the security officers will not be armed or have police authority to make arrests. He added that the security officers being locally based will help them in their work. The security team is being led by city Traffic Commissioner Larry Ingersoll, himself a retired Gloucester police officer, through a new provider formed by Ingersoll and fellow retired police officer Ernest Curtis.

"These are area guys who know what it takes to meet the library's needs," Brennan said. "One of the things that's good about it is they have a basis of understanding of the patrons, and they have an understanding of the pattern of activity."

Trustees’ spokesperson Tracy Davis said that at least one officer will be on duty during all times the library is open to the public. Davis said that the security schedules are coordinated to provide officer coverage for all 59 ½ hours of the library’s weekly schedule.

“We hope that the security officers and the other recent upgrades will be a welcome addition to (the library)," Brennan said. "The fact is, people can and should feel safe at their local library, and it is an important message we need to send out to the community."

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