Library to hire security guard by month's end

Destruction, thefts, fights spur decision

Westminster

March 18, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Westminster library patrons will soon start seeing a security guard patrolling the book aisles at the busiest of Carroll County's five-branch system.

Library director Linda Mielke said she hopes to hire a part-time guard by the end of the month.

"We want to get started on this to make our library safer for our patrons," she said.

The Carroll County commissioners recently authorized $2,500 for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in June, after library officials asked for $26,000 to hire a guard amid security concerns.

Library officials said fights, thefts and destruction of property have troubled the branch on Main Street. Those incidents prompted nearly 100 calls to Westminster police last year, library officials told the commissioners at a meeting last month.

An additional $6,750 has been allotted in the recommended budget for the 2005 fiscal year, which begins in July. The money will pay for a part-time security guard to patrol the library for two hours five days a week, said Ted Zaleski, the county budget director.

Because an outside security company requires a minimum of four hours daily for its security guards, Mielke said, she expects to use the library's other funds to pay for at least two more hours. The security company is expected to advertise for the part-time job locally, Mielke said.

"We'll stagger the hours and then figure out when the biggest problems are and cover them," she said.

The commissioners said last month that they wanted to discuss the possibility of sharing the cost with city officials.

Westminster Mayor Kevin E. Dayhoff said yesterday that he had met with Mielke, county chief of staff Steven D. Powell and a city police representative to discuss security problems at the library.

Although the idea of the city's pitching in was discussed, Dayhoff said, Westminster "unfortunately is not in the position to give the library money toward the security guard."

Several downtown businesses and offices on Main Street often address their security concerns on their own, Dayhoff said.

"The city of Westminster has a limited amount of funds available for public safety," he said. "We feel that the better return for taxpayers' dollars is to concentrate on the bigger public safety picture."

City police recently conducted a security survey of the library. Among their recommendations were installing security mirrors and additional lights, Dayhoff said.

A city police liaison will continue to work with downtown businesses, including the library, to address any concerns, he said.

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