Library Cops Overdue Books
January 5, 2012 by staff
Shannon Benoit told CBS Boston that little Hailey, 5, was worried she was going to be cuffed and arrested when Sgt. Dan Dowd arrived at their door in Charlton Dec. 27 asking for the book.
With the cops standing at the door, the family searched the house and found the text, and returned it to Dowd, according to the report.
But when he left, Hailey began to cry.
“I thought it was way overboard,” Shannon Benoit told the TV station.
The story exploded around the Internet on Tuesday, leaving the Charlton Public Library to defend its actions.
Library director Cheryl Hansen told the Worcester Telegram in a story published Wednesday the branch wasn’t even after Hailey’s overdue books.
Hansen said the library was looking for an audio book worth $100 checked out by Hailey’s father, Tony.
“I’m getting email from all over the country. I’ve been called a f—— moron, an idiot, a Nazi, a communist,” Hansen told the newspaper.
“I’ve also had several library visitors today say they supported the decision.”
She added that patrons with overdue materials are sent letters and then a bill when a borrowed item is more than a month late. The Benoits deny receiving any notices.
Hansen told the paper that the Benoits were one of 13 homes to receive a visit from the cops in an effort to collect $2,634 in overdue books and fines.
“Sending out the police is a last-resort effort to get back some of our most valuable materials,” she said.
Dowd told the TV station he hadn’t felt great about the house call, but was just following orders.
“Nobody wanted to, on this end, to get involved in it,” he said. “But the library contacted us, and the chief delegated, and apparently I was one of the low men on the totem pole.”
Hansen told the newspaper she was shocked at the controversy.
“I was surprised when Ch. 4 called because I did talk to Mr. Benoit when he came in,” she said. “I explained the whole situation and he was pretty calm and he actually ended up apologizing to me for the language his wife used when she called us.”
The town’s police chief, James Pervier, told the Telegram that the library was being unfairly blamed.
“They tried everything to get those items back without being overzealous or punitive, but that’s not what’s being conveyed,” he said.
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