Sex Case Pits Library Against Cops

"When three teenagers in Naperville's Nichols Library (IL) reported seeing a man fondling himself while looking at Internet pornography, library workers called police.

The man left before officers arrived, so police asked to see who was logged on at the computer. To the surprise of police, the library refused, opening another chapter in the controversy over how much access law enforcement should have to library records." Read More.

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What The?

Do you now how hard it is even to get the police to come over when there's a problem? We have groups of teens who will hang out outside the library creating mischief, one time they even threw rocks at patrons. We call the police and they might show up, they might not. What are the odds of them helping us at all if when we ask them to come over we don't give them any information concerning the culprits?

They seem to think the police officer is just going to magically appear when called and catch the bad guy red-handed.

Three comments about this story

1. There is no mention in the article that a criminal case against the guy could just get thrown out of court if the library gave up his name without a court order. Shame on the Naperville library officials if they didn't bring this up, and shame on the reporter anyway.

2. The whole issue of library records could have been avoided if library personnel had quietly called 911 and had the guy arrested while he was still at the library, instead of kicking him out before calling the police.

3. It would be helpful for library privacy laws to be amended to allow a library to provide -- without requiring a court order -- police with information or evidence pertaining directly to an alleged crime committed on library property and witnessed by a library staff member or reported to the library by an eyewitness. ALA ought to campaign for this narrow exception to privacy statutes.

Re:What The?

Apparently a YMMV situation. I've never had a problem getting a squad car to the library when needed, and I suspect that the Naperville PD is also pretty responsive.

Re:Three comments about this story

Actually ALA had a brief article in the March 2003 issue of AL concerning how different libraries were complying with the Patriot Act. Some libraries considered sign-up sheets as public records and some considered it a 'court-order only' issue. Sounds like more of a local policy issue.

Also if you got ALA to endorse that narrow exception it would blow a wide hole in the anti-Patriot Act case because why should a librarian make information available because they have information concerning an alleged crime or criminal but not for a law enforcement officer who has information concerning an alleged crime or criminal? Its the officer's job after all isn't it?

Oh and on #2, I don't have access to the article but the synopsis just says he left on his own. Does the article say different?

June 9 update

"Illinois' and DuPage County's top prosecutors are being consulted for advice and guidance in a dispute between the city of Naperville and the Naperville Public Library that erupted last month after a patron allegedly viewed pornography at a library computer." Naperville Sun

Re:Three comments about this story

The first part of the article says
"When three teenagers in Naperville's Nichols Library reported seeing a man fondling himself while looking at Internet pornography, library workers called police.

The man left before officers arrived, so police asked to see who was logged on at the computer. To the surprise of police, the library refused, opening another chapter in the controversy over how much access law enforcement should have to library records."


but then later on they say
"Library officials confronted the man and he left. After he was gone, the officials called police and reported that the boys had seen the man fondle himself beneath his clothes."


The first part makes it sound like they called police but the man left before they got there, but then they say he left before they even called police.
Were they calling the police because he was looking at porn or because he was fondling himself?

True Story

A few years back we had an incident where two patrons got in a fist fight in the library. Not near the library, not outside the library, I said inside. And by inside I mean less than twenty feet from the front desk where I work. I still don't know what spurred this. One minute they were just sitting there and the next one was kicking the other on the ground and throwing chairs.

I called 911 while the fight was in progress. I told the operator that the fight was still in progress. Hell I even told her who looked like they were winning. She said she'd send someone right over.

30 minutes later a cop walked through the front door... I'll repeat that. 30 minutes later a cop walked through our front door. Goddess above, the fire department and ambulance already arrived and almost completed treatment on the "victim." I could understand this if we were far from a place where cops would be. However, at the time, the police department was across the parking lot behind the library. Get that? Not across town. Not across the street. It sat across the parking lot from us. And I'm not talking about a precinct. I'm talking about the main police station. You know, where all the cops are.

Just in case you didn't get it the first time... 30 minutes later.

I'm so glad one of them didn't pull a knife or something. We could have had a murder on our hands, but maybe then we'd have merited a quicker response. So yeah, it's not as if we expect a fast response from our police department. Since then the police station moved. They now reside less than three blocks down the street. It still takes forever. Someone suggested that distance was a factor now. But you know, I've noticed something about those police cars, maybe you have too. See they got these red and blue lights on top of them and this high pitched siren thingy. And I swear to goddess that a few days ago I saw one use both of those and blow right through a stoplight and continue on at high speed. I don't know it could have been coincidence.

/rant

As for this dumbass library, I figure that the patron gave up a right to privacy when he started manipulating his schwanz in view of kids. Seems he wasn't too much into the whole privacy thing at that point. Sounds like a case where the librarians were policy smart and reality stupid. You know something? When someone whips out his John Thomas in full view of people whilst viewing porn on the Internet, that last thing I'm worried about is his right to privacy. After all, if they don't seem concerned about it then why should I?

Re:Three comments about this story

I reckon that time and the courts will tell if computer sign-up sheets are really public records or confidential patron records. Probably varies state-by-state. In Illinois, given the wording of our statute, it looks like the issue may hinge on whether using a library computer is considered "borrowing" materials.

On checking again, I see that it's not clear whether the Naperville library actually told the guy to leave. The article just says, "Library officials confronted the man and he left." Police still should have been called instead.

I'm not sure how the narrow exception I propose would affect one's position on USAPATRIOT Act, since my exception would be limited to reporting criminal incidents witnessed in the flesh (too much flesh, in this case) on the premises of the library. Which isn't the same as a law enforcement agency seeking information from the library about non-criminal activities which may be relevant to a criminal investigation.

Our business

" 'We think it is incumbent upon them, since
they're in the business of providing a safe
environment...' said Naperville Police Capt.
Ray McGury." Well, no, we're not in the business of providing a safe environment. We're in the business of providing access information and recreation.
-Ruth

Re:Our business

"We're in the business of providing access information and recreation."... but in a safe environment

Re:Three comments about this story

"I'm not sure how the narrow exception I propose would affect one's position on USAPATRIOT Act, since my exception would be limited to reporting criminal incidents witnessed in the flesh (too much flesh, in this case) on the premises of the library. Which isn't the same as a law enforcement agency seeking information from the library about non-criminal activities which may be relevant to a criminal investigation."

When the police officer asked for the name of the person who was fondling themselves they were asking about non-criminal activities that were relevant to a criminal investigation. It wasn't a crime for him to sign up for the internet only what he did while on the internet.

And its not necessarily true that the librarian witnessed in the flesh what happened, the teenagers saw and reported it first. Even so if the librarian saw it its still their interpretation of events. If a law enforcement official sees someone making contact with a known terrorist it is their interpretation of events that say this person may be up to something lets see what we can find out.

While I'm proud of my profession I'm not willing to put more faith in a librarian's view of possible crimes committed over and above a l.e.o's view.

I Don't Get It

Here we have a case of a person making a public nuisance and the law called in. When the man leaves the library will not assist in helping to solve a crime. How far does protection of the patron go. The staff did the responsible thing by calling the police yet did not do the responsible thing by helping the police. The police are not the gestapo and the patron is not a political refugee. I don't understand the lack of cooperation by the library.

This case is also a good reason for library filtering. Why should the library be an enabler for a perverted person to save money on buying a computer. Libraries are for intellectual growth not enablers. How far will leftist philosophy go in their lack of concern for the public. I suppose if libraries don't concern themselves with materials bought, then abhorrent behavior is to be protected. All these incidents do is reinforce the idea the the library is the laboratory for agenda items. I once worked in a library where they wanted to revamp circulation rules that would be beneficial to the readers. One vociferous patron said that one cannot impose things on the people unless the people speak. Do the people of this Illinois town really want this from their library and librarians.

Screaming

Screaming "Put your penis away you disgusting pervert." would have solved the problem and probably embarrased the autoeroticist so much that he never would have returned.


It seems to me (bear in mind that I don't have a US law degree) that Illinois statutes makes it possible for a citizen, and even a librarian to make an arrest when a crime is committed in their presence. The nice Folks at LexisNexis have this to say:Any person may arrest another person upon reasonable grounds to believe that the other person has committed a violation other than an ordinance violation. 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/107-3 .

So if the library staff had the guts to confront the guy they should have arrested him when he was manipulating his manhood in public. Once he was under arrest there would be no need for the library to give out any information about him, the police could ask him themselves.


This should be added to the training of librarians in Illinois. Florida has no citizen's arrest provision on their Statutes. Since all states vary it would be prudent to address this in new hire training at all libraries.

Better protocol and planning needed?

I finally got a chance to read the story. From the story

"What passes between a librarian and a reader, we're
taught from the first day of library school that it is a confidential issue," West said. "If you have freedom of speech and freedom of assembly without government approval, then you should have freedom to read."

This guy's not a reader. He's an exhibitionistic perv. To be fair to the library, it's a damned if you do/damned if you don't deal. They probably thought they were taking the best, legal action. Yes, the right thing would have been to call the cops immediately, but it's so easy to get rattled when that sort of crap happens. We have disaster plans for fire, tornado, and floods. But you don't expect people to be whacking off at the library (in the library bathroom, yeah, but not on the floor).

Court order issued...

...patron identified, charges pending:http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040611-0 65931-9519r.htmThe worst problem at our library is the homeless/mentally ill/substance abusing crowd. We have excellent policies but some of the nitwits I work with have a Mother Teresa complex and give the indigent handouts and want to do missionary work on library property and time. One of the pets had been allowed to curse out other patrons, urinate on furniture when he was passed out, and drool on a book that had to be pitched. The staff ringleader, a deacon at a local church, gave this guy money and urged the rest of the staff to shake his hand and treat him as a good fellow. I complained to the director but to no avail UNTIL the guy tried to grab two little girls and the cops had to be called.El Loco Drunko was banned for about a year and has returned to the library, a much reformed character. (Oh, and the charitable works of the staff have ceased--big surprise.)

No deputization for librarians!

Jeeze, Matt! They don't pay me enough to do what I do now, let alone pinning me with a deputy badge. ;-) We are very lucky to have security and are taught to not handle any dangerous/legal situations on our own (aside from calling the cops). This was re-emphasized when we brought in a trainer from the community crisis center after the mentally ill patron snapped last month.

Correct link and new link with more info

right here and another from ABC7 Chicago with more info. According to the second story

Naperville police obtained the order and the library gave up not only the records from the computer used by the alleged suspect, but those from other computers in the room.

Re:Screaming

Librarians screaming in a library?

I wonder

I wonder if the library staff would have given his name to the police right away if he had murdered someone in the library.


Is a pervert more entitled to privacy than a murderer? What about a rapist, a child molester, a thief, a carjacker?

If I were in Naperville I would have arrested the pervert myself and held onto him until police arrived. Nip it in the bud and the word will spread among the freaks and perverts that the library is not the place for that nonsense. The concept worked for the nuns in school when I was a kid; I'm sure it works for flashers and perverts too.

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