From the Files of Who Knew? Vol. 86 – DC Public Library Has a Police Force

DC Public Library Police

A reader spots a DC Public Library Police car and asks:

“To get overdue library books back?? Has anyone else seen this cruiser, or know what the story is? thanks!”

Remember Detective Mr. Bookman:

I don’t judge a man by the length of his hair or the kind of music he listens to. Rock was never my bag. But you put on a pair of shoes when you walk into the New York Public Library, fella.

Let me tell you something, funny boy… You know that little stamp? The one that says New York Public Library? Well, that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole helluva lot. Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I’ve seen your type before — flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… Why’s this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me…. Maybe. Sure, we’re too old to change the world. What about that kid, sitting down, opening a book right now in a branch of the local library and finding pictures of pee-pees and wee-wees in The Cat in the Hat and The Five Chinese Brothers. Doesn’t he deserve better? Look, if you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you’d better think again. This is about that kid’s right to read a book without getting his mind warped. Or maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld… Maybe that’s how you get your kicks… You and your goodtime buddies… I’ve got a flash for you, joy boy. Partytime is over.

Photo by flickr user justindc

In 2009 flickr user justindc also saw the vehicle:

In the comments an officer wrote:

“Yes seriously. I am an Officer with this agency and we do respond to calls for service just like MPD or DC Protective Services would. Alot of people don’t realize it but the library is Government property. As a result this department is staffed with government police officers, (083 series) and charged with the law enforcement responsibilities for the system. there are 30 facilities citywide owned and operated by the dcpl and with all the crime in the city it spills over into these buildings, ( government property) daily. All types of incidents occur from thefts, assults, destruction of property, etc. And yes the library is safe because of us. This department has done alot and will continue to do so. Also we are the same job series and have the same duties and mission as DC Protective Services- protect government property, staff, an the public. We just wear a different uniform. Any other questions please feel free to twitter DCLIBRARYPOLICE.”

Though DCLIBRARYPOLICE appears to be inactive on twitter today.

DC Public Library’s Media Rep. confirms that the Library does have a police department. More info coming later this afternoon.

22 Comment

  • Nice, articulate response from the Library police officer.

  • While you’re thinking about that, think about this.

  • this is kind of embarrassing… i mean for the guy who gets DC Library duty….. worse than a desk job?

  • Glad to see that classic episode was the first thing to come to your mind, too.

  • I discovered the DC Library Police a year ago. There was a cruiser parked outside the Southeast Library.

  • I thought that during the Fenty Administration they did away with the library police force at the same time they did away with scanners at the MLK. Do we know if they made a comeback or (spoiler alert) nobody followed through on the plan?

  • orderedchaos

    If you’ve been to some of our libraries (e.g., the MLK library downtown), you’d realize that it’s pretty important to have these officers keeping a watchful eye on things. I’ll admit I didn’t realize they had cool cars though.

    • I find it insane that a library of all places would be a stage for nefarious activities, tomfoolery, etc. Seems like they should be the more benign of places, but hey, it’s DC…

    • The officers I’ve encountered at the MLK branch have all been very professional-especially when dealing with the homeless congregated outside. One helped me a few weeks ago when I tried to use the book drop after closing & it was jammed (or full). He offered to take my books to the return inside the building, which he didn’t need to do.

  • I’d take more library crime and less street crime any day of the week.

  • Hell yes! This is awesome! They should print DC Public Library Police t-shirts. I would buy about 20 of them and ship off to friends near and far.

  • I see them at Shaw Library and am thankful for it. I am a librarian and hate to act as librarian, babysitter, and security enforcement on a daily basis. It has really gotten out of control.

    • ah

      The fact that libraries need their own police force to take care of stuff like this doesn’t speak very well for MPDC. Just why can’t MPDC handle such things?

  • Why can’t MPD or Protective Services cover the libraries?

  • I like the police officer’s response alot. He makes alot of good points. Alot of times I wonder if we’re wasting alot of money. Sounds like this is alot good use of funds.

  • I believe there is a Stephen King story about this.

  • Did anyone else immediately think of Seinfeld? Tropic of Cancer???

  • As the daughter of a librarian, I don’t doubt that they need a police presence. I’m just curious as to why it’s a different police force. If city crime spills into the library, couldn’t crime committed in the library spill into the streets?

    Also, can someone explain to me the difference between MPD and DC Protective Services?

    • MPD are the primary law enforcement agency in the District of Columbia. DC Protective Service are Special Police Officers with “limited authority” and jurisdiction to protect DC owned and leased buildings. They have no jurisdiction outside of their protection of DC government buildings. Contrary to what the Protective Services police officers may say, they are not the “real” police. They carry a Special Police Officer commission card and MPD does not. MPD officers have jurisdiction throughout the city.

      • This is not true. They have full police autonomy throughout DC. They also do a lot more than protect DC owned buildings. You should do more research.

        • Sorry to burst your bubble but check the District Code under 6A and you will see their limited authority. They are “Special” Police Officers, not police officers. As I mentioned before, ask them for their Special Police Officer Commission Card, which they must have in their possession by law. You have a lot of wanna be police officers in that department and if they did their jobs well enough they just might be able to handle their own tasks. As for now they can’t even make an arrest without MPD doing it for them.

  • I have a librarian friend. You would not believe the some of the stuff that goes down in libraries. Lol. Libraries also serve a pretty broad role in our community.

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