Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
Holding overdue library books is a misdemeanor crime, and a growing number of law enforcement agencies are actually enforcing the rule, The Huffington Post reported earlier this week. Most recently, a 5-year-old girl from Charlton, Mass. was visited by a police offer sent to collect two overdue books, along with an overdue audio book held by her father, which had accrued $100 in late fees. According to the Worcester Telegram newspaper, the visit was one of 13 area visits meant to collect $2,634 in significantly overdue materials.
After the issue gained national attention, the library told the newspaper that the 5-year-old was not the target of the police visit, though the incident left her in tears and fearful of arrest:
Shannon Benoit said she was home with her youngest daughter, Hailey, on Dec. 27 when a “very respectful and professional” police Sgt. Daniel P. Dowd knocked and asked her to contact the library regarding overdue books.
When she closed the door, Ms. Benoit found 5-year-old Hailey standing behind her in tears.
“She asked me if the police were going to arrest her. I wanted the story to come out because I think that using police officers to retrieve library books from children is just ridiculous,” Ms. Benoit said.
After Ms. Benoit called the media, a CBS Boston (Channel 4) story that aired Monday, saying police had come to collect Hailey’s overdue books, gained national attention.
“I’m getting email from all over the country. I’ve been called a f-ing moron, an idiot, a Nazi, a communist,” Library Director Cheryl Hansen said in an interview yesterday. “I’ve also had several library visitors today say they supported the decision.”
Hailey’s borrowed books, due in October 2010, were of small value. It was her father’s $100 audiobook, overdue since April 2009, that placed Tony Benoit’s address among the 13 to receive police visits. The 13 homes collectively held $2,634 in significantly overdue materials.
Charlton library officials recently decided to collect the $2,634 by exercising their rights under state law. The Benoit family was responsible for $130 of that $2,634.
Image: Library books, via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has launched an app–free and available from iTunes–designed to help parents keep their children safe, and to track them in case they suddenly go missing. It is the first mobile application launched by the Bureau. The app is currently compatible only with iPhones, the FBI’s website said, though plans are in the works to launch versions that will work on other mobile devices in the near future.
The Child ID App invites parents to store a recent photo of their child plus important information like the child’s height and weight, that can be used to help authorities look for the child if they are missing. The FBI said in a press release:
You can show the pictures and provide physical identifiers such as height and weight to security or police officers on the spot. Using a special tab on the app, you can also quickly and easily e-mail the information to authorities with a few clicks.
The app also includes tips on keeping children safe as well as specific guidance on what to do in those first few crucial hours after a child goes missing.
The FBI says a child goes missing every 40 seconds in America.
(image via: http://www.fbi.gov)
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Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
A Washington DC police officer, just back from maternity leave after having her second child, has been forced to take additional unpaid leave because she cannot wear the bullet-proof vest she’d need to perform street patrol duties. Officer Sashay Brown had requested a desk-based assignment while she was breastfeeding because the vest was very painful and, she said, could clog her milk ducts and affect her milk supply.
The Washington Examiner reports:
Officer Sashay Brown returned to work in May after having her second child. At first, she worked a desk job. Soon after, though, she was forced to patrol the city streets under a new department policy that was meant to force officers who had made dubious claims of health issues back to the street….
[Medical services branch director William] Sarvis said that until department doctors determine Brown is fit for full duty, she’d either have to take sick leave, or unpaid leave if she didn’t have sick days left.
“I’m just coming back from having a baby,” Brown told The Washington Examiner. “I don’t have any sick leave left.”
She and her husband are now a one-income family. Brown plans to breastfeed through her child’s first year.
“That’s a long time to be without pay,” she said. “I’m applying for short-term disability, and am hoping they allow this to be a medical condition.”
The DC police force has recently suffered high attrition rates, losing around 15 officers each month.
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