Magazine article American Libraries

Indiana Exhibit Draws Police Attention. (News Fronts)

Magazine article American Libraries

Indiana Exhibit Draws Police Attention. (News Fronts)

Article excerpt

A St. Joseph County (Ind.) Public Library presentation titled "What to Do When Stopped by Police" got unexpected publicity in mid-February when off-duty police officers began borrowing every book in a related display. By the third day, Director Don Napoli told American Libraries, he realized that officers were engaging in activities that "border on an intellectual-freedom issue" by borrowing multiple copies of such titles as Beat Your Ticket: Go to Court and Win and Driving While Black: Highways, Shopping, Malls, Taxicabs, Sidewalks: How to Fight Back If You Are a Victim of Racial Profiling. Napoli asked the police department's public information office, "What's going on here?" and the books were returned.

What triggered the department's consternation, according to Napoli, was the release from the hospital of a police officer shot in the line of duty on the same day that the officer who walks the library beat noticed the display. The coincidence occurred several months after the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) lost a campaign to raise police salaries, causing the library to "get mixed up with a political agenda" in which the police force was feeling particularly unappreciated by the community, Napoli explained.

Some 30 off-duty officers attended the February 21 program, which attracted a beyond-capacity crowd of more than 200 people. There were no incidents at the session, which was facilitated by a well-respected local bank president who fielded only pertinent written questions to presenter Jeff Kimmell. …

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