Dover Mulls Armed Security for Library - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover Mulls Armed Security for Library

Posted: Updated: Jul 24, 2019 3:31 AM -04:00
Dover Public Library. Dover Public Library.

DOVER, Del.- Amid complaints regarding alleged lewd or inappropriate behavior at the city library, Dover could soon hire armed security guards to patrol the building.

A city council committee on Tuesday voted to have City Manager Donna Mitchell begin researching a potential security contractor that would be stationed at the public library.

"When taxpayers don't feel comfortable using the library and we have patrons that are being victimized one way or another and we have young children in there, we need to run a tight ship," said Councilman Matt Lindell (District 1).

The move follows a decision in May to begin locking the bathroom doors and blocking access to those without library cards or proper identification. City officials have said they believe there have been fewer incidents involving illegal or lewd behavior in the building since limiting bathroom access.

But some Dover residents, like Jill Street, who is also a member of an advisory community for the library, said limiting access to the bathroom is not a permanent fix and extra security would be a better step.

Proponents point to issues like an incident in June, in which a man allegedly exposed himself to a teenage girl at the library.

Street pointed to the fact that the city does not always have police cadets available to cover security duties at the library.

"When there were cadets there, my kids would count them: 'one, two, three, how many do you see?' We don't have enough of them going around."

But some critics, particularly advocates for the homeless in Dover, have said the move to lock the bathroom and potential hiring of armed security will only make life difficult for many of the hundreds of people estimated to not have stable living quarters in the area.

Herb Konowitz with Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing said the move will only make the library even more unfriendly to people with the greatest needs in the city and believes city officials have unfairly blamed the homeless for bad behavior at the library.

"The people who are homeless in the shelter are not dangerous to anybody," he said. "They're just trying to survive."

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