Saturday, October 18, 2008

Safe Libraries and McGruff in Albuquerque, NM - A Model For the Nation

The Albuquerque Police Department has a "Safe Libraries" initiative that may include McGruff the Crime Dog. It is "aimed at keeping pedophiles from stalking children at the city's public libraries," according to this media report: "City Touts Safe Libraries," by KRQE News 13, 23 July 2008.

But the "Safe Libraries" initiative has a broader purpose, according to the program's creator with whom I spoke. The news report emphasizes the pedophile problem, but in reality the initiative is about all aspects of library patron and staff safety. Under the initiative, citizens are trained to observe and report potentially criminal behavior by registered sex offenders, transients, and others in public libraries—extra eyes and ears, so to speak.

The Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System libraries are run by the government, so pornographic or obscene material is prohibited, and the policy is enforced by CIPA-complaint Internet filters. Good thing because the libraries are visited by a relatively large number of transients due to the city's location along historic Route 66. Between the transients and the registered sex offenders, criminal activity occurs frequently enough that citizen volunteers are needed to observe and report possible criminality. Police then act accordingly. One of the many benefits is the freeing of library staff from having to confront such individuals.

This "Safe Libraries" initiative should become a model for communities nationwide. It is so new that it does not yet have a web site. As soon as I become aware of one, I will bring it to your attention, or maybe someone will post it in the comments section below.

The New Mexico Attorney General is very active in protecting children from Internet crimes, having its own "Internet Crimes Against Children" section. For example, see: "Federal Legislation on Internet Safety Signed Into Law...AG Says New Mexico Children to Benefit," by Gary K. King, NM Attorney General, 17 October 2008. The "Safe Libraries" program is welcome in such an environment. Will it be welcome in your state?

(Note: The "Safe Libraries" initiative is not related
to, except we have similar goals.
See the SafeLibraries YouTube Channel for
the above video and more library crime videos.)

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