• Jacksonville Sheriff's Office calls to Main Library double in 2 years

    By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    An Action News Jax investigation uncovered that Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responses to the Main Library in downtown Jacksonville have doubled over the past two years.

    Jacksonville mother of two Pamela Williams said she brings her children to the Main Library at least once a week.

    “We got some DVDs. We got 'Sesame Street' in there. I even have some 'Harry Potter' in there," said Williams.

    Sheriff's Office data revealed officers show up at the Main Library even more often than Williams' family does.

    Between 2012 and 2017, officers were called to the Main Library 1,127 times.

    In 2017, officers were called there 276 times; that's twice as many calls as in 2015.

    “It's very upsetting when something happens like an indecent exposure," said Jacksonville Public Library spokesman Chris Boivin.

    The Sheriff's Office has written reports of five men exposing themselves at the Main Library.

    Jamar Burch was charged with exposing himself in front of an elderly woman in 2017.

    High-risk sex offender James Fay pleaded guilty to touching himself at a library computer in 2016.
    “I think that it is unfortunate,” said Boivin.

    Action News Jax asked Boivin why calls to the Sheriff's Office are going up while library attendance goes down.

    Boivin credits better training over the past two years. He said employees are engaging more with visitors and know what's happening in the building.

    "We're actually getting ready to implement some more training, some more real formal training with a real safety and security officer in the library," said Boivin.

    Boivin said there are always at least four security guards at the Main Library, as well as surveillance cameras that are monitored live.

    “I go in there to get on the computer. I go in there to read books," said library visitor Damion Begay.

    Begay sleeps in an abandoned building nearby and spends a lot of time at the Main Street Pocket Park behind the library.

    Begay said many homeless people go into the library to get out of bad weather.

    “I go in there every day. But, I mean, every once in a while, you get about four crackheads going in there, smoke some crack, wig out in the library a little bit, and leave. But other than that, most people do what they're supposed to do,” said Begay.

    Williams said she has no plans to stop her weekly visits.

    “No, not at all. I feel like it's a very safe, family-oriented place," said Williams.

    The Jacksonville Public Library has banned 52 people from all library branches in the past year. Twenty of them are minors.

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