Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco libraries add security guards

This year's budget cuts forced Pasco's libraries to scale back on operating hours and book purchases.

But last week a new expense came online: security guards at all seven branches.

Library officials say the decision to hire part-time guards — which will cost the library system $24,960 per year — is in response to minor incidents such as vandalism, kids smoking in the parking lots and a handful of patrons who were acting erratically.

Linda Allen, libraries director, said the safety of patrons and employees took precedence over the services pinched by funding cutbacks.

"If this isn't a safe or positive place to be, we won't have to worry about books, because people won't be coming," she said. "There's more anger in the general population, and they seem to take it out on public services sometimes.

"We are facing more people coming to the library who are homeless or unemployed. And people who maybe have emotional or mental problems are acting out more. It concerns us."

The decision to hire security guards was made in 2007, Allen said. But the bidding and interviewing process took longer than anticipated, pushing the hiring to this year.

Guards with American Protection Service Inc., based in Meridian, Miss., started work at Pasco's libraries on Nov. 3. The company stations one security guard at each of the seven branches for about four hours each weekday. The time of the shift varies by branch.

The guards earn $13 per hour.

In addition to patrolling the library's grounds, guards will help with special events or escorting employees or people with disabilities to their cars, said Brian Fortenberry, president of the company.

Pasco's library system joins others in the Tampa Bay area that use private security companies or law enforcement personnel.

In Tampa, security guards have been used in some branches of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries for the past 25 years, said Joe Stines, director of libraries.

"We keep incident reports and analyze patterns to decide (security options)," Stines said.

In Clearwater, police aides — people with security backgrounds who go through training by Clearwater police officers — guard two of the city's five library branches, said Eleanor Scharf, assistant libraries director of the city's library system.

Vandalism and a higher concentration of kids at certain branches prompted the decision to hire security, Scharf said. The library system has been using security guards or police aides on and off for the past 10 years, Scharf said.

"With our building and our location, it was needed to patrol the area," said Scharf, who works in the main library branch.

In Pasco, funding cuts have prompted officials this year to close library branches an hour earlier and postpone purchasing new materials. The library system's $7-million budget took a 10 percent hit.

But Allen said hiring security was crucial.

"More people are coming in, and more are needing services," she said. "The safety of our patrons is important."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

by the numbers

$24,960 The annual cost of providing part-time security guards at the county's library branches.

$13 The hourly rate earned by guards.

7 The number of branches within the library system.

4 The amount of time, measured in hours, that security guards will spend each day at the branches.

Pasco libraries add security guards 11/09/08 [Last modified: Saturday, November 15, 2008 11:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75

    Accidents

    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  2. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  3. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette

    News

    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  4. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494
  5. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 139, collapses buildings in Mexico

    World

    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 139 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]