Oregon PL Hires Security Guard for $45,000/year

librarianscott writes "The new security guard hired by one of the Jackson County, Oregon, libraries "caught" a man looking at pornography and carries "pepper spray and handcuffs in case someone really gets out of line."

The library claims the number of patrons at their circulation desk "has increased by 30 percent.""

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Good for them

It's too bad this is necessary, but at least they realize security is a growing problem at public libraries. We will never be able to measure who is NOT coming to the library because they are uncomfortable about safety. Librarians should be able to be librarians, not enforcement officers.

Gotta be careful

I don't know laws nation wide, but in the state of Washington (just slightly over from the state of Confusion), security guards are little more than professional witnesses. There's been cases where a security guard started thinking they're a cop and wound up going to jail along with the suspect for unlawful use of force, assault with a deadly weapon, etc.

Since the guard is on the library payroll, they're the ones that'll be held accountable if Captain Rent-a-Cop gets out of hand and uses that pepper spray in an unlawful manner. "Unlawful manner" in Washington means that the guard must feel that his life and/or the lives of others is under threat. Unlike a cop he cannot use the spray simply to subdue someone unwilling to leave the library before throwing them out. That's assault. He cannot arrest anyone save a typical citizen's arrest. If he uses the cuffs, he damned well better be right because he can be charged with unlawful arrest and/or unlawful imprisonment. If he hits someone, the suspect better have thrown the first punch. If he takes someone down, there better be some really good circumstances to back him.

I'm all for security at libraries. But libraries need to realize that, unless their security guard is a police officer, they do not have the legal power or authority of a police officer. Anyone can get their hands on a security guard's badge. Hell, I have one, and I've never been a security guard. There's really no laws that I know of that prohibit you from acting like a security guard. There are plenty of laws stating I can't have a police officer's badge and there's even more laws stating that I can't act like one. If I hit a security guard, I've committed simple assault. If I hit a cop, I've assaulted a police officer. Guess which one actually carries jail time?

So have the guard, but get educated on what he can, and especially what he cannot, do.

Pornography in Libraries

I wonder if this library had a pornography policy or if the security guard acted on his own judgement? It would be worth looking at, since "security" sometimes acts more powerful than they really are.

Re:Gotta be careful

In the state of Oregon security officers may detain and make arrests for offenses comitted in their presence. (OR Rev Stat §870.870 and 133.225)


The guard is not on the library's payroll but on the payroll of the services contracted to provide security service to the library. (and probably paid much less than the contract's value).

Man some security guard must have really ticked you off :)

If the library were paying 45K for a security guard I'd apply I have the gun and an MLS!

Re:Gotta be careful

Man some security guard must have really ticked you off :)

As the man said, "You are correct, sir!" :) A while back I had an altercation with a rent-a-cop who worked at one of our local hospitals. I live really close to said hospital and take frequent walks at night. Usually, at least at that time, when I went out late nights I carried a firearm. I don't live in a dangerous neighbourhood, but I've had stuff thrown at me from passing cars, vicious dogs try to attack me, and a couple run ins with weirdos.

One night as I was walking home some security guard employed by the hospital challenged me and my right to walk down the street at night. Yes, that's right, gentlepeople, the street. The street is most decidedly not hospital property. The guy thought I was casing the place for some reason, because after all, I walked by very frequently. So I must be casing the place, right? He started to make noises like he was going to detain me for questioning at which point I told him he better get help because he had no right to detain me. He pulled out his Maglite, you know the flashlight that's not a weapon even though it has the same grip as many police batons, is black, is metal, is made to bash things, and carries at least three C size batteries. He held it in a somewhat menancing fashion and told me he didn't think he needed any help. At that point I pulled my jacket back and placed my hand on my weapon. As he started to back off I told him in no uncertain terms that he's not a cop, has no rights like a cop, and if he didn't put the damned flashlight away I was going to drop him, and I still wouldn't be shooting a cop.

He backed down. Imagine that. He didn't call for that aforementioned backup. And I have yet to have another problem with their guards. Apparently, they changed companies. :)

Re:Gotta be careful

Mdoneil, not sure I would trust you with the gun. With the MLS, yes, certainly.

Re:Gotta be careful

That is probably wise :)


Actually I was a police officer for 9 months (they fired the entire cohort that was hired with me due to budget cuts). I thought I would have had more 'hepling people' and less being spit on.

Re:Pornography in Libraries

Yes, and we sure wouldn't want to make this a place safe for children, would we?

Re:Pornography in Libraries

Knowing Jackson County, the patron was probably looking at the online edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

Re:Pornography in Libraries

As the courts have already decided, not at the expense of the First Amendment Rights of adults - especially if there are other, less restrictive, measures available.

While we're at it, would anyone care to explain what the harm is to a child who experiences an incidental glimpse of pornography... other than embarrasment?

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