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.