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Security Plan

Miami-Dade Public Library System

Innovation Leader: Willard Fowler, Library Security and Safety Manager, fowlerw@mdpls.org

Problem Statement

The Miami-Dade Public Library System is comprised of 48 library facilities serving diversified communities within Miami-Dade County, Florida. Because of this diversification, the system must make an effort to address those issues that are unique to a particular branch, in addition to system wide needs, since no two branches have the same safety and security challenges.

Innovation

To address this two-tier problem, the Library’s Security and Safety Manager created and implemented a Security Plan. This Plan highlighted system wide needs such as the installation of Closed Circuit TV cameras (CCTV), centralized and remote data accessible intrusion alarms, a mechanical access control key system, and comprehensive training to library staff and contract security guards on proper safety and security procedures.

Security hours were revised to promote more effective and efficient use of security staffing. Outreach was made to library branch-representative law enforcement and community groups. Library branch and local law enforcement alliances were formed and information was exchanged between branch and local police. This included phone numbers, alerting of suspicious persons and potential behavioral problems, and crime awareness contacts. At new facility openings, the library system reached out to respective police districts to communicate related concerns and forge relationships. Security staffing was based on patron populations of juvenile gangs, behavioral problems, and interlibrary Incident Reports which monitored serious occurrences requiring police intervention. These incidents determined the branch need for either the presence of a sworn police officer, a security officer, or no security staff.

System wide staff training addresses common library issues such as personal safety and patron behavioral problems. The Security Plan required each scheduled training presentation to include a branch manager consultation to communicate site and employee specific concerns. Managers were taught the importance of continual law enforcement outreach and the concept of police Business Watch relationships. Interlibrary Incident Report writing presentation taught how to effectively document suspicious incidents by using crime awareness and prevention techniques. Branch supervisory staff was trained on how to manage system wide resources such as CCTV, mechanical key access, and the intrusion alarm systems.

Progress

96.5% of library patrons polled in the latest Five-Star Library Service Survey stated that they felt safe. The theft of high value materials has decreased by 35%. Security and branch staffs have realized important role they play in becoming more responsible for safety and security.