Security increased at Santa Monica libraries

Santa Monica California's top librarian said he has increased security at all branches after the manager here was attacked by a homeless man who had been ordered to leave after vandalizing a men's restroom.Meanwhile, the man charged with the assault, Melvin Winston Hardy, pleaded no contest on Tuesday and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Superior Court said.

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Why was he asked to leave after vandalizing a restroom? Why were the police not called in to deal with the crime? If I were a taxpayer there I would be pissed off. Taxpayers own the libraries and some bureaucratic functionary should not make decisions as to involve or not involve the police in crimes.

Don't send them away, don't warn them not to come back, don't give them a time out...when an adult -homeless or not- commits a crime at the library the police should be involved. The police have the training, the experience and the resources to handle that type of thing. That is their job. It is not the job of a librarian to investigate crime, it is not the job of the librarian to arrest scofflaws, it is not the job of the librarian to make prosecutorial decisions, and it is most certainly not the job of the librarian to fight with attackers in the library. The police and the prosecuting attorneys are in the appropriate roles to take on each and every one of those tasks.

The failure to involve the police when the bum stole all of the bog paper was why the librarian was beaten. Had she called the police I can say with certainty that she would not have been attacked.

The library inspectors are a complete waste of time. As the article states:

There are four full-time inspectors at the new Main Library and six part-time inspectors who rotate among branches, making deliveries or assisting librarians with other tasks, Mullen said.

Either they are there to provide security or they are there to run errands. Making them do both decreases their effectiveness in either position. Seeing the guard run errands and make deliveries decreases the public's perception of their authority. Just look at the study John Molloy (the fellow who wrote Dress for Success ) did about security guards, their uniforms and errands. In his study the guards at one facility fetched coffee and wore off the rack uniforms. He changed the uniforms of the guards at another of the company's offices to resemble those of the state police and prohibited them from running errands. The number of security incidents decreased over eighty percent in one year and the guards reported they were much more pleased with their jobs and not taken as some second rate errand boy anymore.

So I offer this unsolicited advice to the staff at the Ocean Park Library. Call the police to deal with all crimes not matter how small you may think they are. Call the police to deal with any patrons who become a problem. You both work for the city and you'll find police officers share a camaraderie with other city employees.

Additionally quit using your Inspectors as errand boys. Do you want them to protect you and nip any problems in the bud, or do you want them moving the heavy Baker and Taylor boxes. Let them do their jobs and buy yourself a cart.

Adding librarians to the list of public employees whose battery is elevated to a felony is simply pointless. Behavior cannot be legislated. People who beat up librarians don't care if it is a misdemeanor or a felony. Frankly charging someone who caused injury that required medical treatment with a misdemeanor is cowardly. Poking someone with your finger is different than injuring someone so badly the require surgical intervention to close their laceration. Any facial lacerations should be treated correctly to minimize scaring so a plastic surgeon was needed in this case - more money from the taxpayers for that on the job assault. Charge and prosecute the felony aggravated battery, don't give them 3 hots and a cot for the hot summer months, heck the vagrant would have probably signed up for that respite from the heat. There is no reason for enhanced penalties for assaulting a librarian just don't deal a winnable conviction away. Don't ask the city council for a new law; ask the prosecutor where his balls are? Sure a misdemeanor conviction looks good for the stats, but it looks like crap to the librarian who was knocked face first to the pavement.

I'd also like to offer some advice to anyone library patron or otherwise who punches me so hard that I fall on my face. Run, run like hell away from me. If I roll over and see you still standing there I'll assume you intend to hurt me again and I'm not going to let that happen. I'll kill you first. I'll still call the police but I don't think you'll be alive to tell them your side of the story.

Yep, what he said!

What's interesting is I was just listening to the Santa Monica City Council Meeting on the radio tonight as I drove home and the subject was how well the Police were dealing with the homeless by partnering with other agencies.

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