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Feb 27, 2014 8:43 PM by John Patrick

Pima County Public Library buys peace of mind

TUCSON - Pima County Public Library supplements security guards with Tucson Police Department Special Duty Officers for increased safety at local libraries.

PCPL sets aside $750,000 of its $35 million budget for security. $110,000 of that goes to TPD for off duty officers to protect three of the 27 library branches in Tucson. Melinda Cervantes, Pima County Library Director, says the cost is necessary for the peace of mind for library patrons.

"There were some incidents that made both the patrons and the staff feel uncomfortable and unsafe. So in order to provide a safe working environment we introduced special duty officers," explains Cervantes.

The Eckstrom-Columbus Library Branch is one of the three locations TPD helps keep secure. Chuck Williams, a regular to the library, feels their presence is a good thing.

Williams says, "I've seen people dealing drugs right here in the parking lot and there is a lot of young people that come here. So I think having a security guard is good but having police is better."

Anything from fights to domestic disputes have been seen at the libraries but having an officer on site is keeping the number of incidents down.

From June to October 2013 with no officer present there was an average of 28 incidents a month, however, since TPD showed up that number has been cut in half.

Cervantes says, "We're doing our part to make it a safe environment children and adults alike."

It may be costly to tax payers but according to library patron, Matthew Burke, just seeing a police car makes him feel safer.

"Obviously if it's worked. They say presence is a deterrent and that's so much of what's going to keep the incidence from reoccurring," says Burke.

Of the 27 public libraries, 13 are secured by an independent contractor and three of those are protected by TPD.

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