Sunday, August 20, 2000

Library loses police detail

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati police officers can no longer work security details in public libraries because of a workers' compensation dispute.

        The library was advised by its attorneys not to sign a contract that would have required them to cover workers' compensation for officers working in the library branches. The library had agreed to workers' compensation in years past.

        Lawyers got involved on the other side too. City legal counsel advised Safety Director Kent Ryan that without the agreement the police couldn't work the off-duty detail anymore.

        That leaves the Cincinnati public library and its 41 branches without uniformed officers. About a dozen of the branches commonly hired uniformed officers for security.

        Since the dispute, the library has hired private security in certain libraries. The library system also has its own security staff.

        “It's certainly not a crisis situation at all,” spokeswoman Amy Banister said Friday. “It's not causing any problems.”

        Discussions continue on the issue, both library and police officials said, but neither expected a resolution of the stalemate that would again allow officers in the libraries.

        “We're very concerned about security, so we've been monitoring this very closely,” Ms. Banister said.

        Librarians still can call police for help, she pointed out. It will just take them longer to respond than it would if an officer was in the building.


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