X. DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR

1. GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR DEALING WITH DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR

Disruptive behavior is any behavior which either consciously or unconsciously violates or restricts the rights of others to use the library.

Staff members should deal with disruptive behavior in the same manner that you would like to be approached: with courtesy, tact, calmness and most of all, common sense. Some disruptive patrons may sit and cry; others may be hostile, abusive or even violent. Still others may be hallucinating, or they may suffer from delusions. In short, problem behavior can range from the pitiful to the dangerous. The way in which the staff approaches the situation should depend to a large extent on which type of behavior the disruptive patron is exhibiting.

Because of the uniqueness of each situation, common sense should play a large part in any encounter with a disruptive patron. Most workers' instincts will tell them when to be sympathetic or when to back off if a patron is potentially violent. But whatever the case, handling disruptive patrons should be a team procedure by calling on other staff members as necessary.

The team approach to disruptive behavior provides the staff with security and self confidence, both of which are necessary to deal effectively with disruptive patrons. However, in order for the team approach to work, all members of the staff must know what their responsibilities are when a problem situation arises. This section of the manual has been prepared to assist staff to know what is expected of them.

In preparing for disruptive situations, branch managers should:

(1) Post library rules in highly visible locations.

(2) Attach emergency phone numbers on or adjacent to every phone in the facility.

When dealing with disruptive behavior, staff should keep in mind the following:

(1) Assume that the patron has a legitimate reason for using the library until symptoms of disruptive behavior are exhibited as defined in this section of the manual.

(2) Even though the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager has ultimate responsibility for dealing with this type of behavior, all staff have a degree of responsibility. Reporting a potential problem as well as an actual problem is very important.

(3) Use common sense in dealing with the situation. Listen carefully to the patron. Respond in a calm manner. Try not to panic or become angry. Try to speak normally.

(4) Take a firm, realistic position and explain it fully. Don't get into arguments.

(5) Don't attempt to use physical force.

(6) Never touch a disruptive patron.

(7) Don't hesitate to call the police/sheriff in a critical or overwhelming situation.

(8) Be consistent and fair in enforcing rules. Don't single out one age group to be especially hard on.

(9) Teamwork is important in dealing with disruptive patrons. Reinforcement help may be necessary.

(10) If a patron becomes violent or threatens to do so, leave the patron, yourself, other patrons and other staff a way out. Do not block the escape route.

What about pressing charges?

The question will often arise in dealing with disruptive library patrons as to whether or not charges should be brought against the perpetrator. As a general rule, the library staff, unless they are the direct victims of the disruptive behavior, should not file charges. Also, as a general rule, unless a library staff member actually witnesses a crime in progress, he or she should not press charges. There are exceptions to these rules; common sense should be your guide.

A loud and disorderly patron who persists in his behavior after being asked to leave the premises probably should be charged with disturbing the peace. Library Staff who witness the disturbance should sign charges. If a patron reports that he or she was the victim of a crime, then the patron has the option of filing charges. Generally speaking, the law enforcement officer on the scene will advise the patron, or the staff member, in this regard.

There may be instances where the staff member did not see the crime but the evidence of the crime and the identity of the perpetrator are so substantial that a reasonably prudent person would be led to believe that the person identified as the perpetrator did in fact commit such a crime, then in such an instance charges may be filed by library staff. Once again, the severity of the offense would be taken into consideration. It would seem to be fairly ridiculous to file charges against a teenager for cutting pictures out of a magazine, but it would be even more ridiculous not to file charges against an assailant who has just beaten his victim to a bloody pulp. Remember a crime is an offense against the State, not just the victim involved.

The thrust of this discussion is that we must rely on staff to exercise caution, judgement and common sense. If disruptive behavior can be dealt with without police involvement and without filing charges, then that is the manner in which it should be handled. Filing public drunk charges against people who stagger in the door is a waste of time. On the other hand, if they stagger in the door, become belligerent, and make a general nuisance of themselves in the library, then it may be appropriate to file charges against that person.

If you find yourself in the position where, after hearing the advice of the law enforcement officer, you are still uncertain as to what to do, call the Branch Services Manager or Director. If they are unavailable staff may call Eddie Williams, JGRLS Board of Trustees' Legal Counsel, at 762-2490 or Fax 762-8449.

Applicable PUF forms:

PUF-01 Disruptive Incident Report

PUF-09 Bomb Threat Report Form

2. ALCOHOL/DRUG ABUSER

Definition: (1) One who is using alcohol or drugs to such an extent that his/her judgement is affected, and whose behavior in the library is disruptive or is potentially dangerous to herself/himself or others.

(2) One who is using alcohol or drugs on library property or selling or providing alcohol or drugs to others on library property.

Drugs or Chemically Dependent Patrons

It is not always obvious whether a person who is acting strangely is under the influence of drugs or suffering from permanent psychological problems. Whatever the case, the staff member should not make the patron feel threatened, as this will only make the situation worse. A staff member in need of help in dealing with the individual should consult with the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

The Person-in-Charge should decide what action is required, including whether or not to call the police. The library's primary goal, however, is to have the offender leave the library.

A staff member or a patron who witnesses the use or the sale of illegal drugs should notify the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager. However, only the person who actually witnessed the incident can press charges.

Drunks and Other Alcohol Related Problems

Anyone openly carrying a bottle of beer, wine or liquor in the library, including the public restroom, and drinking from it should be considered a problem patron.

Judgement needs to be exercised in the case of people who smell of alcohol. If the patron's behavior is not otherwise offensive, then there is no particular problem. If, on the other hand, the patron is noticeably intoxicated, loud, or obnoxious or if other patrons are complaining, the staff should take action.

Drunks are potentially very dangerous and should be approached with caution. Although they may appear calm, any words or actions from a staff member could turn them violent immediately.

Staff members should get back-up help from co-workers when dealing with drunks. If the individual is asked to leave the building and either refuses, or is incapable of leaving on his/her own, the police may have to be called to remove the person from the library.

Staff members should never jeopardize themselves by physically touching or assisting the drunk. Wait for the police/sheriff.

Except in cases where the drunk is belligerent or assaults personnel physically or verbally, charges will not be filed by library personnel.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. If problem is slight, assume the patron has a reason to use the library and treat accordingly. Be calm and attentive to his/her needs and encourage the patron to leave the library as soon as her/his business is complete.

B. If the patron's behavior is disruptive, calmly ask the patron to leave. If the patron will not leave the library, refer to the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

Person-in-Charge/ C. Be calm and agreeable, but firmly accompany the

Branch Manager patron to the exit. Stay clear of verbal confrontation or physical contact. It is advisable to have another staff member with you when dealing with this type of patron.

D. If the patron refuses to leave, call the police/sheriff immediately.

E. File a "Disruptive Incident" report with the Branch Services Manager.

 

3. ANGRY/IRATE PATRON

Definition: Patrons who are visibly angry or irate with staff, generally the result of some minor problem dealing with registration procedures, overdue materials, fines, or reserves. Under normal circumstances, these patrons will refrain from "verbal abuse". When the patron goes from angry and irate to verbal abuse, however, the procedures outlined under Verbal Abuse (see X.20.) should be implemented immediately.

Since the public library is generally perceived as being just about the only agency - public or private - where a person can unload built-up frustrations against the "bureaucracy" without jeopardizing services with no repercussions, many public libraries must deal with a few angry and irate patrons on an almost daily basis.

Having to deal with an angry/irate patron often brings to the fore feelings of fear, lack of self-confidence, and sometimes anger and frustration. The following techniques can help library personnel when faced with an angry/irate patron.

18. Remain calm. Do not give the appearance of being combative but do not appear fearful either.

2. Listen attentively and elicit all information about the complaint.

3. Be aware of how you are speaking. Speak slowly and clearly and if you are using a loud tone, lower your voice.

4. Empathize with the patron and try to understand exactly how he/she feels. If a patron is assured you understand his/her feelings of anger, then there is no need to express that anger at a higher level.

5. Feedback the patron's own words by repeating (paraphrase) what he/she said.

6. Paraphrasing is especially useful during arguments of highly emotional issues when one side tends to prepare a rebuttal while the other side is still speaking. Attempt to get the patron to repeat your position on the matter. This method insures that both sides really listen because each side must be able to restate the other's position. The resulting communication is usually clearer and the relationship between participants is frequently enhanced.

7. When you understand what the problem is, take some immediate action:

a. If the patron's complaint is legitimate, do something immediately to insure the situation is alleviated.

b. If the patron's complaint is not legitimate and he wants you to alter established policy, you need to be firm. Explain the library's policy and show the patron a written copy of it if possible and necessary.

c. Instead of arguing with the person, simply restate the library's policy over and over.

d. While remaining firm, try to find alternatives that will alleviate the situation without violating policy. Perhaps you can even ask the patron to help you think of acceptable alternatives.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. After completing the guidelines provided above and the patron persists, ask for help from co-workers.

B. If this does not defuse the situation, then the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager should become involved.

C. The Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager should be informed of the situation prior to meeting the patron face-to-face.

D. If Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager is not available, the staff member should take the patron's name and telephone number and tell the patron that the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager will contact them as soon as possible.

Person-in-Charge/ E. Find a satisfactory solution without violating library Policy

F. After discussing the problem with the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager the patron can be referred to the Branch Services Manager, if necessary.

G. When a patron is referred to the Branch Services Manager, the person making the referral should contact the Branch Services Manager immediately to inform them of the situation. A "Disruptive Incident Report" should also be completed and forwarded to the Branch Services Manager.

Branch Services H. Using the guidelines above, as well as information

Manager provided by the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager, discuss the problem with the patron via telephone or a meeting. Resolve the problem without violating library policy.

I. If the patron persists, tell them that they are free to discuss this with the Library Director. Provide patron with name and telephone number of Library Director.

J. Update the "Disruptive Incident Report" and alert the Library Director.

Library Director K. Using the guidelines above, as well as information provided by the PIC, Branch Manager, and Branch Services Manager, discuss the problem with the patron via telephone or a meeting. Resolve the problem without violating library policy.

L. If the patron persists, tell them that they are free to appear before the Board of Trustees during a regularly scheduled meeting. Provide patron with name and telephone number of Board Chairperson.

M. Update the "Disruptive Incident Report" and alert the Chairperson of the Regional Board of Trustees.

 

4. ARMED, AGGRESSIVE AND/OR PHYSICALLY THREATENING BEHAVIOR

(See also: Assault)

Definition: When a patron, either armed or unarmed, is acting in an aggressive and/or physically threatening manner to staff and/or patrons.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. Stay CALM. DO NOT attempt to physically overpower the person. If possible, inform the Person-in- Charge/Branch Manager. If the situation is life threatening, do not waste time looking for a supervisor -- CALL POLICE IMMEDIATELY.

Give name, agency, address. Be specific and emphasize that immediate assistance is needed.

B. Try to take protective measures to safeguard library users and staff until the police/sheriff arrive. Remove staff/patrons from the area of the incident, going outside, if necessary.

C. Notify Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager as soon as possible if he/she was not notified before police/sheriff were called.

Person-in-Charge/ D. Notify Branch Services Manager that police were

Branch Manager called. File "Disruptive Incident Report".

Additional guidelines

1. A key to control in situations where a patron or staff member is being threatened is teamwork. Employees should be aware of developing situations and assist in removing the threatened staff member or patron from the area.

2. Act as calmly as possible and do not argue.

3. A staff member who is physically unable to break away should yell for help from nearby co-workers or patrons while another staff member should call the police/sheriff.

4. While a person is entitled to use self-defense, or to go to the defense of another person who is being attacked, physical confrontation with the attacker is not recommended.

5. ASSAULT, INCLUDING RAPE

Definition: Actual physical attack involving library patrons and/or staff.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. Stay calm. Determine the nature of the assault. Short of a physical confrontation, intervene if possible and ask person(s) to stop immediately (for example, in the case of two youths fighting).

B. Any staff member who observes or is involved in an act of assault should call the police/sheriff immediately. Give name, library and address. Be specific and emphasize that assistance is needed NOW.

C. Notify Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager as soon as possible if he/she has not been notified previously.

D. Take protective measures to safeguard other library users and personnel until police/sheriff arrive. For example, remove staff and patrons from the area of the incident.

E. When a patron/victim reports to a staff member an unobserved assault, the same procedure should be followed. The victim should be offered assistance and first aid if necessary and advised to remain in the library until the police/sheriff arrive. If needed, emergency medical assistance may be called.

F. If attacker leaves the library prior to the arrival of the police/sheriff, record physical description of the attacker.

Person-in-Charge/ G. Notify Branch Services Manager that police/sheriff

Branch Manager were called. File "Disruptive Incident Report".

6. BOMB THREATS (Telephone)

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. Keep the person on the telephone as long as possible. Attempt to get co-workers attention.

B. Pull "Bomb Threat Report Form" (PUF-09) and record pertinent information about the possible identification of the caller. Several copies of the "Bomb Threat Report Form" should be kept in the immediate vicinity of all telephones.

C. Immediately after the call is terminated, initiate "call tracing„ procedures. Note: "call tracing„ through the telephone company is not possible if another incoming call is received on that line prior to the staff member instituting "call tracing„ procedures.

D. Call Tracing (as described under "Touchstar Service„ in the South Central Bell telephone directory for Pascagoula):

Call tracing allows you to initiate an automatic trace of the last call you received. Your telephone company Annoyance Call Center will automatically receive a message containing the phone number where the obscene or abusive call originated (if within the TouchStar service area), plus the time and date of the call. It is necessary, however, to call the Annoyance Call Center before the end of the next business day and report the date and time of the calls to be investigated. Dial 557-6557 (toll free) 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Call Tracing is available either by subscription, with a monthly service charge, or on a per-call basis whether you subscribe to TouchStar services or not. Subscribing to Call Tracing entitles you to an unlimited number of traces for a set fee each month. Customers who do not subscribe to the monthly service are billed

by the call for each successful trace. On both offerings, only calls originating from within a TouchStar area may be traced.

To Use:

1. Hang up after receiving the abusive call.

2. Listen for dial tone.

3. Press *57 (1157 rotary or dial pulse telephones), then listen for announcement.

4. Call the Annoyance Call Center before the end of the next business day at 557-6557.

Notes:

It is essential that the Call Tracing action, pressing *57 (or 1157) be done immediately after you hang up the phone following the offending call. If you delay taking action and receive a subsequent call, Call Tracing will not trace the original number.

E. Report immediately to Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

Person-in-Charge/ F. Call police/sheriff immediately.

G. Call Branch Services Manager.

H. Follow instructions of police/sheriff regarding evacuation.

I. If evacuation is necessary, move staff and patrons at least 350 feet from the building.

J. If requested, the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager will accompany police/sheriff in the search of the building and grounds.

K. Do not permit re-entry until building is declared safe by the police/sheriff.

Staff Member L. File "Bomb Threat Form, "Disruptive Incident Form„

Taking the Call/ and any forms completed by the police/sheriff with

Branch Manager the Branch Services Manager.

Branch Services M. Compare any earlier bomb threat reports with the last

Manager one filed to determine if any similarities exist. If they do, report this information to the police/sheriff.

 

Note: If a suspicious object is found, it should be reported to the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager. The Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager will then follow all steps just as in a "Bomb Threat" over the telephone, except "call tracing„.

7. CHILD ABUSE/CHILD NEGLECT

Definition: Child Abuse - Any physical injury or injuries sustained by a child as a result of cruel or inhumane treatment by any parent, adoptive parent or other person who has permanent care or temporary care of a minor child.

Child Neglect - Passive, negative treatment on the part of a parent or custodian including not feeding, not clothing, inadequate shelter, etc.

Mississippi Code, 43-21-353 Duty to inform the court

(1) Any attorney, physician.....or any other person having reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a neglected child or an abused child, shall cause an oral report to be made immediately by telephone or otherwise and followed as soon thereafter as possible by a report in writing to the Department of Human Services, and immediately a referral shall be made by the Department of Human Services to the intake unit and where appropriate to the youth court prosecutor...

(4) Reports of abuse and neglect made under this chapter and the identity of the reporter are confidential except when the court in which the investigation report is filed, in its discretion, determines the testimony of the person reporting to be material to a judicial proceeding.

Mississippi Code, 43-21-355 Immunity for reporting information

Any attorney, physician....or any other person participating in the making of a required report pursuant to section 43-21-353 or participating in the judicial proceeding resulting therefrom shall be presumed to be acting in good faith. Any person or institution reporting in good faith shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. If you witness or suspect child abuse or child neglect, report to the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

Person-in-Charge/ B. Gather facts, including name and address of suspect

Branch Manager/ and/or victim, if possible, and the nature or problem

Staff Member from witnessing staff member(s).

C. If by "acting in good faith" it is determined to be child abuse or child neglect, contact:

State Department of Public Welfare

24 hour toll-free Telephone: 1-800-423-5805

D. Inform Branch Services Manager of incident. File "Disruptive Incident Report", along with copy of any report(s) forwarded to authorities.

8. CHILD UNATTENDED

Definition: (1) Preschool age child unable to care for self or in need of assistance after having been left unattended in the library for 30 minutes or more.

(2) Preschool or elementary/junior high school age child not being picked up and left alone at closing time.

The library is not responsible for unattended children. In today's world, however, it is possible that in the absence of the parent/custodian someone might attempt to hold the library liable if something should happen to the child while left unattended in the library.

As a result, the following action will be STRICTLY ENFORCED BY ALL BRANCH LIBRARIES.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. If a staff member observes a parent/custodian leaving a preschool age child unattended in the library, the staff member will ask the parent/custodian to either remain in the library or take the child with them.

B. If an elementary/junior high age child is in the library, do not approach him/her unless he/she is causing a problem. Treat the problem as defined elsewhere in this manual.

C. If a preschool age child has been left unattended for 30 minutes or more, including after story hour, etc., implement the following action:

1. Try to locate the parent/custodian or see if another patron can provide any information about the situation. Patron registration files may be helpful in some cases.

2. If the parent/custodian cannot be located in the building, report the situation to the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

Person-in-Charge/ 3. Try to obtain the name, address and telephone

Branch Manager number of the child and any additional information as to the identity and whereabouts of the parent/custodian. Call the number, if obtained.

4. If the parent/custodian answers and indicates that they are coming to pick up the child, explain that if they do not arrive in 30 minutes the police will be called.

5. If the parent/custodian arrives, discuss the problem with them, including the seriousness of the situation and potential dangers to the child. Inform them that the library is not in the business of providing babysitting services and request that they not allow this situation to develop again in the future.

6. If no one can be reached, call the police/sheriff for assistance.

7. If the police/sheriff are called, file a "Disruptive Incident Report" with the Branch Services Manager. If known, include the parent's name, address and telephone number.

Branch Services 8. Contact the parent regarding the situation either Manager by telephone or U. S. Mail.

Person-In-Charge/ D. If preschool or elementary/junior high school age child

Branch Manager is left alone at the time the library closes and is either unable or afraid to walk home, implement the following action:

1. See if the child can provide any information about when and who is to pick him/her up. Call this person if possible to find out when and if someone is coming for the child. Explain to the person answering the phone that if no one arrives within 15 minutes after the library closes the police will be called to pick the child up.

2. If staff notice unattended children in the library prior to closing, the staff member might ask the child about 30 minutes before actual closing if arrangements for their transportation home have been made. If not, encourage them to do so. This should be done quietly so that other patrons do not hear the conversation.

3. After closing, stay with the child who is unable to care of him/herself until the parent/custodian arrives.

4. Encourage children (12 years and younger) left alone at closing to wait at the library for a ride. They should not walk home alone or be left alone at the library. Do not, however, forcibly detain them. If they leave the library you may want to alert the police/sheriff that a child is walking home alone from the library.

5. If no one picks up the child within 15 minutes after closing and no contact can be made with the parent/custodian, call the police/sheriff for assistance.

6. If the parent/custodian arrives, discuss the problem with them, including the seriousness of the situation and potential dangers to the child. Inform them that the library is not in the business of providing baby-sitting services and request that they not allow this situation to develop again in the future.

7. If the police/sheriff are called, stay with the child along with co-worker, until they arrive.

8. If the police/sheriff are called, file a "Disruptive Incident Report" with the Branch Services Manager. If known, include the name of the child as well as the parent's name, address and telephone number.

Branch Services 9. Contact the parent regarding the situation, either by telephone or U.S. Mail.

9. DANGEROUS WEAPONS, NON-AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR

Definition: Patrons carrying on their person dangerous weapons such as hand guns, shot guns, and machetes are prohibited from entering the library. This policy applies to all individuals, with the exception of law enforcement officers, even if the weapon is registered and they are carrying a permit.

Pocket knives and sheathed hunting knives are not subject to this policy, as long as such knives remain in the patron's pocket or sheath. When a patron takes a knife out of his/her pocket or unsheathes it, ask them to put it away. If they refuse, the procedures below dealing with dangerous weapons would apply.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES ACTION

Staff Member A. If a staff member observes a patron carrying a dangerous weapon, either openly or concealed:

1. Try to determine if the patron's behavior is aggressive or non-aggressive.

2. If aggressive, refer immediately to procedures outlined under Armed, Aggressive and/or Physically Threatening Behavior (Section X.4.)

3. If non-aggressive, ask the patron if he/she is a law enforcement officer or an individual authorized under State Law to carry such a weapon and is in the library performing his/her duties. If the answer is "yes", proceed with business as usual.

4. If the patron is not a law enforcement officer, explain the library's policy regarding dangerous weapons in the library. Tell them that the weapon must be removed from the library. When that has been done, they are welcome to return to the library.

5. If the patron refuses to remove the weapon from the library, ask the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager for assistance.

Person-in-Charge/ B. Explain library policy and ask the patron to remove the

Branch Manager weapon from the library. Inform patron that if they do not, the police/sheriff will be called.

C. If they refuse, call police/sheriff immediately.

D. File "Disruptive Incident Report" along with a copy of police/sheriff report, if available.

 

10. EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED OR PSYCHOTIC BEHAVIOR

Definition: Patrons exhibiting repetitive, consistent "out of touch with reality" behavior, or who act or talk irrationally can be difficult. If the behavior is not disturbing to others, however, it should be ignored. On the other hand, if the unusual behavior is disruptive, then the staff member should take action. Take a firm, consistent stand and speak in a commanding voice, explaining the library's regulations. Do not corner or touch the individual. Be careful. Allow space so that the person can leave the building easily in case he/she feels threatened. Do not argue the patron out of hallucinations or delusions. Simply restate your message about the library's regulations over and over. Sometimes a firm stand forces an emotionally disturbed person to face the reality of the situation.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. Initially treat this patron like others. Be alert and sensitive to his/her library needs.

B. If the patron becomes disruptive, refer the situation to the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

Person-in-Charge/ C. Ask the patron firmly and quietly to leave the library

Branch Manager by saying "Your behavior is disturbing to others and inappropriate in the library; I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

D. Co-workers should be aware of the developing situation and at least one co-worker should move to the immediate area.

E. If the disturbance continues and the patron will not respond to your request to leave the library or becomes physically threatening to himself/herself, to other patrons, or to staff, the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager should call the police/sheriff to come and remove the patron.

F. File a "Disruptive Incident Report" with the Branch Services Manager.

11. LARCENY AND BURGLARY - THEFT OF LIBRARY PROPERTY

(Non-Materials)

Definition: Larceny is the taking and carrying away from any place, at any time, of the personal property of another without his consent, by a person not entitled to possession thereof, feloniously with the intent to deprive the owner of this property permanently and to convert it to the use of the taker or of some person other than the owner.

The essentials to prove the crime of burglary are a breaking and entering the building, and showing that it was done with intent to steal therein or to commit a felony.

Mississippi Code, 1972 Annotated

97-17-33 Burglary - breaking and entering building other that dwelling house

Every person who shall be convicted of breaking and entering, in the day or night, any shop....or other building....with intent to steal therein....shall be guilty of burglary, and imprisoned in the penitentiary not more than seven (7) years.

97-17-41 Larceny - grand larceny defined - penalty

Every person who shall be convicted of taking and carrying away, feloniously, the personal property of another, of the value of one hundred dollars ($100) or more, shall be guilty of grand larceny.

97-17-43 Larceny - petit larceny defined - penalty

If any person shall feloniously take, steal and carry away any personal property of another, under the value of one hundred dollars ($100), he shall be guilty of petit larceny....

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. If you suspect or observe a larceny or burglary, report to the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

Person-in-Charge/ B. If larceny or burglary is confirmed, close area of the

Branch Manager building to both public and staff to preserve evidence.

C. Call the police/sheriff.

D. Notify Branch Services Manager. File "Disruptive Incident Report", along with a copy of the police/sheriff report.

12. MUTILATION OF LIBRARY MATERIALS

Note: Mutilation of library materials is covered under Mississippi Law related to libraries as well under other criminal statues.

Mississippi Code . 1972 annotated - Law related to libraries

39-3-303...willful mutilation of library materials

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to wilfully mutilate library materials.

39-3-305 Definitions

(b) "Library materials" means books, manuscripts, letters, newspapers, court records, films, microfilms, tape recordings, phonograph or any other written or printed document, graphic material of any nature and other personal property which is the property or in the custody of or entrusted to a public or private library, museum, archives or other depository.

(c) "Mutilate" means, in addition to its commonly accepted definition, the willful removal or separation of constituent parts of an item of library materials causing library material to be exposed to damage; or duplication without authorization.

39-3-307 Applicability

The provisions of this article shall apply to all libraries....operated by an agency, board....of the State of Mississippi....or of any other political subdivisions of the State of Mississippi.

39-3-309 Penalty

Any person who violates the provisions of section 39-3-303 is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500) or by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

 

 

39-3-311 Relation with other criminal or civil proceedings

The provisions of this article are supplemental to other criminal statues. An acquital or conviction obtained under this article shall not be a bar to civil proceedings or actions arising from the same incident.

39-3-313 Reasonable detention and questioning to determine whether offense was committed

Any person employed by a library or any person charged with the supervision thereof with reason to believe that any person has committed or has attempted to commit any offense defined in section 39-3-303 of this article or if any person is believed to have concealed upon his person or within his belongings any library material, such person may be detained and questioned in a reasonable manner for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not such offense has been committed. Such detention and questioning shall not render such employee civilly liable for slander, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, unlawful detention or otherwise in any case where such library employee acts in good faith and in a reasonable manner.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member/ A. If a patron is found mutilating library-owned materials,

Person-in-Charge/ there are generally no second chances - the police/

Branch Manager sheriff should be called.

In cases involving mutilation of library materials, calling the police/sheriff will be left to the judgment of the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

B. The staff member must actually observe a patron mutilating library materials - tearing out or razor blading or otherwise removing newspaper or magazine articles, pages from books, cutting microfilm, etc.

C. Before approaching a patron who is observed mutilating an item, make certain that the item being mutilated is library-owned material. Some patrons may, for example, bring a personal magazine into the library to read and before leaving tear out a page or two that they want to keep and throw the rest of the magazine away.

D. If a patron wants to photocopy something from a loose-leaf book, they may remove the section they want to copy from the book. If they make a photocopy they will probably return the original to its proper place. If they don't make a photocopy, but instead stuff the item in their pants pocket, staff should refer to X.12. in this manual (theft of library materials).

E. If mutilation of library-owned materials is observed, approach the patron calmly and say: "It is against the law to mutilate library materials. I observed what you were doing and will have to call the police/sheriff." Make sure you preserve the evidence.

F. If, upon examination, you discover you were wrong, apologize to the patron. Remember that if you act "in good faith and in a reasonable manner" you will not be held civilly liable.

G. If your observations were correct and the patron did indeed mutilate library-owned materials, have a co-worker call the police while you remain with the suspect.

H. If the suspect tries to leave, do not risk personal injury by attempting to physically detain him/her. Many times, however, an authoritarian tone of voice and manner may convince the person to remain in the library until the police/sheriff arrives.

I. If the patron leaves before the police arrive, give them his/her name, if known, physical description and, if possible, a description of the vehicle and/or direction of travel.

J. If a staff member has been involved in the incident, notify the Branch Manager immediately.

Branch K. File " Disruptive Incident Report" along with a copy of

Manager the police/sheriff report.

13. NOISY AND ROWDY BEHAVIOR, INDIVIDUALS AND GANGS

Definition: There is a certain level of noise which results from normal use of the library - staff assisting patrons, movements of people, use of typewriters and microfilm readers, etc. Noise beyond that caused by normal library activities should be controlled so that patron use of the library is not disturbed. Individual differences should be considered in judging if a person is making too much noise. Allowance must be made for different ages (toddlers will cry spontaneously) and for people with disabilities (hearing impaired patrons may speak loudly). If quiet areas are available at the library, patrons and staff should respect the need for quiet in these areas.

Noise levels can also vary within a building. Noise in one area may sound louder outside that area. Other staff should alert the staff person assigned to the area if they perceive the noise to be too loud.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. Ask person(s) to stop disruptive noise and/or rowdy behavior. If necessary, refer patron(s) to posted regulations.

B. If behavior continues, ask patron(s) to leave.

C. If patron(s) refuse(s) to leave, notify the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

Person-in-Charge/ D. Ask patron(s) to leave the library.

E. If patron(s) refuse(s) to leave, call the police/sheriff.

F. File a "Disruptive Incident Report" with the Branch Services Manager.

Additional Guidelines

1. Repeated incidents by the same person or group may require special action on the part of the Branch Manager, including enforcement of eviction procedures.

2. Try to learn the names and addresses of noisy and rowdy children and young adults. A discussion with the parents regarding the child's behavior in the library might be useful.

3. Assistance from local school authorities might help to break up after school problem groups.

4. Calling the police/sheriff could secure extra police action, but should be done only if library personnel feel that the situation has grown beyond their ability to handle. Library personnel have been employed to provide information and other public library services, not to police the facility. As a result, if personnel feel such action is necessary they should not be reluctant to ask for assistance from the police/sheriff.

5. Chatty patrons who distract staff members. Chatty patrons are sometimes lonely people and the staff should be tolerant of their behavior. Be polite but discourage long irrelevant conversations with patrons. If a patron continues a lengthy conversation, the staff member should politely explain that it is necessary to return to work or help another patron. Other staff members should be aware of situations like this and intervene to break up the conversation.

6. Noisy and disruptive small children. Small children, either individually or in groups, who become loud or noisy should be told in a firm, but nice way, that this behavior is inappropriate in the library and is disturbing to others.

Programs for children may present a special problem. If patrons complain, explain the circumstances.

Children running and playing throughout the library building are hazardous to themselves and others and should be stopped at once. Children should not be allowed to play with or misuse AV equipment, photocopiers, or other library equipment, furniture, or property.

If a parent has accompanied a child who becomes disruptive but fails to correct the child's behavior, the staff member should first speak to the parent. If the behavior continues, the staff member should inform the parent that the child is disturbing others and that unless he/she is brought under control they may be asked to leave the library.

The use of the library as a temporary baby sitting service by parents is not permitted. Library personnel should inform parents that the library does not provide such a service and cannot be responsible for the care of children.

Some parents, when being told that their child is misbehaving, or upon observing such behavior, will punish a child to such an extent that the child's reaction to the punishment is much greater than the incident that caused the punishment. Punishment of children for behavior problems is a parental responsibility; however, if such punishment persists - if the parent appears to physically abuse the child or if the parent continues to yell at or spank the child, it might be necessary to ask the parent to leave the building with the child until the situation is under control.

 

14. SEXUAL MISCONDUCT

Definition: Acts of perverse nature, such as exposure, flashers, pinchers, sexual harassment, sexual solicitation, peeping, sexual misconduct in public restrooms, etc.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. Notify the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager immediately.

Person-in-Charge/ B. Exposure and other sexual acts of a perverse

Branch Manager nature. If the incident has been observed by a library employee, that employee should call the police immediately. If the incident has been observed by a library patron and reported to library personnel, reporting the incident to the police/sheriff is generally the patron's responsibility. On occasion, a patron may be so distraught and upset that, while they want to report the incident to the authorities, they are physically or emotionally unable to do so. If the Person-in- Charge/Branch Manager makes the telephone call to the police/sheriff for the patron, the employee should say: "This is (name of employee) at the (branch) library. I am calling to report a possible incident of (type) at the library. I did not witness the alleged crime and am calling at the request of a patron, (name of patron) ." NEVER MAKE AN ACCUSATION if you are reporting a possible crime for a patron. NEVER CALL POLICE/SHERIFF for a patron if the patron is unwilling to stay until they arrive.

C. For other types of sexual misconducts (see definition).

Quietly discourage the offender from lingering too long. Make the person aware that you are aware of their presence. In some cases, you might be able to physically come between them and their object.

D. If the problem persists and is observed by staff, staff can either call the police/sheriff or proceed to items E, F, or G.

E. If a staff member observes the offender, take him/her aside: "What you are doing is inappropriate. If you don't stop I have to ask you to leave the library." Be sure to follow up by continuing to observe their behavior.

F. If a complaint comes from a library patron, take the offender aside: " I have had a complaint that you are bothering another patron. If this is true, I will have to ask you to leave." Be sure to follow up by continuing to observe the offender.

G. If the behavior persists and you observe it, say: "I am asking you to leave; if you don't I will call the police (or sheriff)." Be brief and firm; don't get into arguments. You may want a co-worker with you or close by at this point.

H. If police need to be contacted to remove a patron, call!

I. Report the incident, whether police were called or not, to the Branch Services Manager. File a "Disruptive Incident Report".

J. Be sensitive to the victim. Be sympathetic and understanding. Encourage the victim to report the incident to the police/sheriff. You may need to "shelter" this person, especially if he/she is a minor. Contact parents, spouse, etc. if needed and requested by the victim.

Some additional general guidelines

1. If someone is suspiciously watching or following a staff member or patron, or if you have observed sexual misconduct or have been told of such an incident by a patron, try to obtain a general description of the alleged offender: note height and weight, complexion, age, general body characteristics, hair color and style, clothing, etc.

2. REMAIN CALM, regardless of the type of incident. Do not show shock or alarm.

3. Although the offender may be gone by the time that you report it to the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager, it is good practice to tell co-workers what the offender looks like (or who the offender is if you know his/her name) so that they can be aware of the incident in case he/she returns.

4. Sex in public restrooms or other public areas. Sex in public restrooms or other public places between members of the same or opposite sex is an illegal behavior and is not permitted in library facilities. If library personnel witness such acts, the employee should indicate to the participants that such behavior is illegal and issue a warning that the police/sheriff will be called if the behavior is not stopped immediately.

If children or young adolescents are involved in such an incident with an adult, and it is witnessed by library personnel, the police should be called immediately.

If the incident involves children or young adolescents with their peers, tell them that they are infringing on the rights of others to use public facilities without being embarrassed or upset. Tell them to leave the library. Value judgements about homosexual behavior should not be made. Parents or authorities should not be called unless the behavior is repeated.

If personnel observe such an incident in a restroom or other public area, it would be wise, for legal reasons, to put yourself in view of other employees and to ask a co-worker to move to an area adjacent to you.

If such an incident is reported to staff by a patron, check it out first before taking action. Unless staff actually observe such behavior, no action can be taken by library personnel. If staff do not observe the behavior reported by a patron, whatever course of action the patron elects to follow, such as informing police/sheriff/parents, is the responsibility of the patron.

15. TELEPHONE: OBSCENE, HARASSING OR THREATENING CALLS

Definition: Caller asks questions of a personal sexual nature, heavy breathing, sexual solicitation, threatening, etc.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. Hang up telephone immediately.

B. Give no information such as your name or location until caller has been identified.

C. Report incident to Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

Person-in-Charge/ D. Alert other staff. File "Disruptive Incident Report" with

Branch Manager Branch Services Manager.

E. If calls persist, notify Branch Services Manager and then contact the telephone company. (South Central Bell toll free number 1-961-1108).

F. If necessary, contact local police/sheriff.

"The laws of the State of Mississippi provide that it is unlawful for any person or persons to make any comment, request, suggestion or proposal over a telephone which is obscene, lewd or lascivious with intent to abuse, threaten or harass any party at the called number. To make a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, without disclosing his/her identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person at the called number is also unlawful. Any person who shall be convicted of a violation of this law shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than six months, or both fined and imprisoned, or sentenced to the custody of the department of corrections for not more than two years. Any person violating this law may be prosecuted in the county where such conversation originated in Mississippi. If it originates outside Mississippi, then such person shall be prosecuted in the county to which the call is transmitted." (Source: South Central Bell 1985 Telephone Directory, Consumer Information Section.)

16. THEFT OF LIBRARY MATERIALS

(Unauthorized Removal of Library Materials)

Note: Unauthorized removal of library materials is covered under Mississippi Law related to libraries as well as under other criminal statues.

Mississippi Code, 1972 Annotated - Laws related to libraries

39-3-303 Unauthorized removal...of library materials

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to remove library materials, without authorization, from the premises wherein such materials are maintained or to retain possession of library materials without authorization.

39-3-305 Definitions

(a) "Without authorization" means contrary to rules which set forth policies governing access to library materials and include eligibility for library patronage and lending procedures.

(b) "Library materials" means records, films, microfilms, tape recordings, phonograph records, lithographs, prints, photographs of any other written or printed document, graphic material or any nature and other personal property which is the property or in the custody of or entrusted to a public or private library, museum, archives or other depository.

39-3-307 Applicability

The provisions of this article shall apply to all libraries, museums, archives and other depositories operated by an agency, board, commission, department or officer of the State of Mississippi, by private persons, societies or organizations, or by agencies or officers of municipalities, counties, schools and junior college districts or of any other political subdivisions of the state of Mississippi.

39-3-309 Penalty

Any person who violates the provisions of section 39-3-303 is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00) or by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

39-3-311 Relation to other criminal or civil proceedings

The provisions of this article are supplemental to other criminal statues. An acquittal or conviction obtained under this article shall not be a bar to civil proceedings or actions arising from the same incident.

39-3-313 Reasonable detention and questioning to determine whether offense was committed

Any person employed by a library or any person charged with such supervision thereof with reason to believe that any person has committed or has attempted to commit any offense defined in section 39-3-303 of this article or if any person is believed to have concealed upon his person or within his belongings any library material, such person may be detained and questioned in a reasonable manner for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not such offense has been committed. Such detention and questioning shall not render such employee civilly liable for slander, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, unlawful detention or otherwise in any case where such library employee acts in good faith and in a reasonable manner.

(End of State Law)

Note: Unfortunately, in spite of all the legalese, the State Law is not an effective or practical solution to the problem of patron theft of library materials. The key ingredient to enforcement of the Mississippi Law dealing with unauthorized removal of library materials is "...TO REMOVE FROM THE PREMISES...", and is very similar to shoplifting statues. It must be clearly understood by all library employees that this law, and the accompanying section dealing with "reasonable detention and questioning" are not applicable until the suspected patron is outside the library building. Detention and questioning a patron regarding possible theft of library materials prior to that time may result in serious legal complications for the employee.

Few, if any, library employees would risk pursuing a patron once that patron is outside the building. Generally, once outside, whatever the patron may have taken illegally is simply lost to us. If there is probable cause to suspect that a patron is removing materials from the library without checking them out, however, the employee may, according to his own conscience and judgment, pursue the suspect. The provisions of the State Law would be applicable in this case. Once outside, continue to treat the incident as though the patron had made a mistake. Continue to deal with it in this manner until there is positive proof that the patron did, in fact, illegally remove materials from the library premises without checking them out.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member/ A. If a library patron is attempting to leave the library with

Person-in-Charge/ materials which have not been properly checked out,

Branch Manager DO NOT assume that theft was the intent. Absentmindedness, misunderstanding of procedures, etc., are, among others, possible causes.

B. Approach the patron pleasantly and ask if you can help them to check out the library materials.

C. If the patron refuses to stop and leaves the library, and if you have probable cause to suspect theft of materials, follow the patron and ask him/her to stop.

D. If you determine that a patron has materials belonging to the library that have not been properly checked out, tell the suspect that unless he/she surrenders the library materials, the police/sheriff will be called.

E. If, upon examination, you discover that you were wrong, apologize to the patron. Remember that if you act "in good faith and in a reasonable manner" you will not be held civilly liable.

F. If you are correct and the materials have not been properly checked out and the patron refuses to hand them over, call the police/sheriff.

G. If the suspect tries to leave, do not risk personal injury by attempting to physically detain him/her. Many times, however, an authoritarian tone of voice and manner may convince the person to remain or to hand over the library materials.

H. If the patron leaves before the police/sheriff arrives, give them his/her name, if known, physical description and, if possible, a description of the vehicle and/or direction of travel.

Branch Manager I. File "Disruptive Incident Report" along with a copy of the police/sheriff report.

REMEMBER - OUR PRIMARY GOAL IS TO HAVE THE MATERIALS PROPERLY CHECKED OUT OR TO HAVE THEM RETURNED IMMEDIATELY TO THE LIBRARY. THE POLICE/ SHERIFF SHOULD BE CALLED ONLY AS A LAST RESORT.

17. THEFT OF PERSONAL PROPERTY--STAFF OR PATRON

Definition: The Library is not responsible for personal property belonging to library personnel or patrons, including, but not limited to, billfolds and purses, cash, equipment, furniture, clocks, articles of clothing, rain gear, umbrellas, books and other materials, writing implements, etc.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member/ A. Report the incident to the Person-in-Charge/Branch

Patron Manager.

B. The responsibility for reporting the incident to the police/sheriff belongs solely to the individual staff member or patron involved in the incident.

C. Offer the victim comfort and support.

Branch Manager D. File "Disruptive Incident Report". If staff member, include copy of police/sheriff report, if called.

18. VANDALISM

Definition: Sometimes referred as "criminal mischief" or "malicious mischief", vandalism is the crime of willfully destroying someone else's property. To convict someone of vandalism, it is generally necessary to prove three things:

(1) that the defendant damaged or destroyed some property,

(2) that the property did not belong to him, and,

(3) that he acted intentionally and with malice.

 

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. Notify the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

Person-in-Charge/ B. Notify the Branch Services Manager.

C. Determine the extent of the damage. It may be necessary to temporarily close the area to both staff and public to preserve any evidence.

D. Call police/sheriff.

E. File "Disruptive Incident Report" with the Branch Services Manager, along with a copy of the police/sheriff report.

F. Contact library Business Manager or city or county to determine insurance coverage.

19. VERBAL ABUSE

Definition: Language used by a patron to a staff member that is obscene and/or abusive. In cases of obscene/abusive language directed toward another patron, follow the guidelines for handling "noisy and rowdy behavior."

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. Remain calm. Deal with the facts in the situation. Respond to the patron's request or problem.

B. Other staff members should come to the support of the staff member being verbally abused.

C. If the patron is extremely abusive, refer the patron to the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

Person-in-Charge/ D. See A above.

E. If the patron continues to be abusive, stop by saying: "I find it impossible to talk when your language is so abusive. I suggest you talk in a more polite manner."

F. If the patron continues to be abusive, it may be necessary to call the police/sheriff. Calling the police/sheriff as a result of verbal abuse should be done so with extreme reluctance and only in those cases when the staff member believes that physical violence is imminent.

G. Report the incident to the Branch Services Manager. File "Disruptive Incident Report".

H. See: "Angry/Irate Patron" for additional guidelines.

20. ROBBERY (Hold-Up)

Definition: Forcibly taking money and/or goods from another person by violence or putting him in fear. Person committing the holdup may be armed, unarmed, or may indicate that he/she has a weapon concealed.

RESPONSIBILITY ACTION

Staff Member A. STAY CALM. DO NOT PANIC. GIVE THEM WHAT THEY DEMAND WITHOUT HESITATION. FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS OF THE PERSON(S) COMMITTING THE HOLDUP. AVOID VERBAL OR PHYSICAL CONFRONTATION.

B. As soon as possible, CALL POLICE/SHERIFF. Give your name and the name and address of the library. Be specific. Emphasize that immediate assistance is needed.

C. Be prepared to provide police/sheriff with a physical description of the suspect(s) and, if possible a description of the get-away vehicle and the direction of travel.

D. Close the area to staff/public to preserve evidence.

E. Notify Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.

Person-in-Charge/ F. Notify Branch Services Manager.

G. Prepare and submit a "Disruptive Incident Report" along with a copy of the police/sheriff report.