Help is on the way, call 9-1-1

May 10-16 is National Police Week. In public libraries, we are so confident that a call to 911 will make it all OK, and law enforcement personnel have never let us down. In the last year my librarians have called for assistance from local law enforcement for injured persons, unwelcome animals, a car crashing through the wall, a broken window, a gas leak, unwelcome advances to children, inebriated visitors, unidentified smoke, and these are only the ones that were reported to me. For all the assistance from city police, county deputies, and yes – even state troopers I and my staff are so thankful.

In rural areas across the country, many library staff members work alone, and they are backed up by the telephone on their desk and the dispatch center only 3 digits away — 9-1-1.

While my law enforcement friends tell me that interactions at libraries are some of their easier calls, I’m well aware of the danger those LE folks regularly face. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, thus far in 2009, 50 Officers have been killed. In all of 2008, there were 136 LE deaths.

Heavy on the hearts and hopeful is my community for the condition of hometown high school standout and now Mahnomen County Deputy Chris Dewey. The Deputy was shot in the head and abdomen and has suffered several setbacks during his therapy for traumatic brain injury. All of his and his family’s suffering because he answered a call one fateful night in February.

While thus far the police calls to libraries have been quickly resolved, I know that there is the potential for both my staff and the responding officer to face threats. I thank those officers for every time they rush to the aid of libraries to protect my staff and the public from potential danger.

Thank you Peace Officers

Today is Peace Officers’ Memorial Day as proclaimed by President George W. Bush*. May 11-17 is Police Week. 181 peace officers made the ultimate sacrifice in 2007, an increase of 20% over 2006 and one of the highest fatality figures in recent years.

Librarians are particularly thankful for the services provided by our local heroes. Because our business is to guarantee access and serve anyone who walks through the library doors, many of us have had the experience of feeling vulnerable or threatened at times. Standing instruction to all my library staff is . . . when in fear or doubt call the police. And they are always right there to stand between the library staff and possible danger.

Recently I had occasion to dial that police number when an individual was causing a problem outside the library’s front door and inhibiting entrances. It was a busy night for the city cops and evidently for the county deputies. Imagine my surprise when a Minnesota state trooper walked in to help us out. When I thanked him, he said they’re always ready to back each other up. Wow!

Thank you, Peace Officers from libraries.

Officer Down Memorial Page
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

*authorized by a joint resolution approved October 1, 1962, as amended (76 Stat. 676), and by Public Law 103-322, as amended (36 U.S.C. 136-137)