Lethbridge Public Library cracking down on drug use at downtown branch
When you walk through the Lethbridge Public Library’s downtown branch these days you’ll find signs scattered around the building that read, “Everyone is welcome here, but drugs are not.”
Increased drug use at the library has led to the need of sharps containers for the safe disposal of needles.
“There’s sometimes a perception that putting in a sharps container invites drug use and that’s not the case at all, there’s lots of evidence to support that,” Lethbridge Public Library CEO Terra Plato said. “It’s a safety measure to keep people who aren’t using drugs safe.”
Plato says the library’s open-door policy has made it an attractive place for people to do and sell drugs.
“We’re welcome to everybody,” she said. “We have long hours, we have freely available public bathrooms, you can come to the library without a membership or without a real purpose.”
Staff at the library are pulling out all the stops to prevent drug activity. They have partnered with police, are shutting Wi-Fi after hours and are handing out lifetime bans.
Library security guard Ilie Dudas says he’s issued about 20 lifetime bans in the last two weeks.
“It’s not that hard to identify which people are here to use the computers or read a book,” Dudas said. “If they’re just loitering around and acting suspicious we take the time, follow them around.”
A lifetime ban means the person is no longer allowed on the property. Otherwise, Lethbridge police inspector Tom Ascroft says it becomes an offence.
“You can be detained and you can be searched, incidental to arrest,” Ascroft said. “It’s just another tool that we have to make sure that’s not an attractive place for people to be going to be participating in illicit behavior.”
Patrons visiting the library are asked to do their part in reporting suspicious behavior.
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