Magazine article American Libraries

Security Officers Overstep in Maryland Library Incident

Magazine article American Libraries

Security Officers Overstep in Maryland Library Incident

Article excerpt

Two county security officers, who wore hats identifying them as Homeland Security guards, have been reassigned after they intervened in a patron's internet session at the Little Falls branch of the Montgomery County Public Library in Bethesda, Maryland.

While on routine patrol at the library February 9, veteran security guard Ralph Gerharz and an officer trainee noticed a man viewing what they believed to be pornography on a library computer and asked him to step outside to discuss the matter, the Washington Post reported March 19. Gerharz then announced to patrons using the computers that looking at porn violated the county's sexual harassment policy.

At that point, library staffers intervened and called the county police department. Gerharz "was offended, and he tried to do something about it and it got a little bit out of hand," his attorney Robin Ficker told the Post. "An officer did respond, and after discussion, it was determined that the actions of the security guards were not appropriate," police spokeswoman Lucille Bauer told reporters. The library patron was allowed to return to his internet session.

Montgomery County Chief Administrative Officer Bruce F. Romer issued a statement February 17 that called the incident "unfortunate" and "regrettable. …

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