Skip to comments.Library Wouldn't Help Police Identify Woman Pulled From River -- Legislation Needs Amending
Posted on 02/05/2007 9:17:13 PM PST by plan2succeed.org
LANCASTER, Ohio Police tried to identify a woman they pulled from an icy river by checking on her library card, but the library would not cooperate, citing a policy set by its board.
The woman, who was treated for unknown injuries, was carrying her library card on a key ring but had no other identification when a passer-by found her in the Hocking River on Thursday night, police said.
So a dispatcher, then an officer called the Fairfield County District Library and were told the library could not release the information without a court order. The woman later was identified as Sheila Springer, 51, by someone at the local hospital where she was taken.
The woman was later taken to Grant Medical Center in Columbus, where she would not allow information to be released on Friday. The hospital said Saturday they had no information on Springer. There was no telephone listing for her. Police did not know how she got in the river.
The library's board set the policy of withholding information about cardholders, library Director Marilyn Steiner said Saturday.
However, Steiner said that after being contacted about the police request, she told her staff they could release the information if they were sure the caller was a law enforcement officer and it was "a matter of life or death." Steiner said the library was prepared to release the woman's identity about 10 minutes after the first call by police, but was told it was no longer necessary.
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So go get a court order! You find out an hour later.
I agree there's a need to confirm the identity of the caller. But the story implies the library refused the police even after knowing they were the police.
Find out an hour later? The lady is in frozen water. You want her to wait around for an hour? Maybe throw a few shrimp on the barbie?
I don't think the woman's life was in danger in having to wait a few minutes to be identified. Were the police not going to finish pulling her from the river or treating her with emergency medical care? "Oh, well, the library won't tell us who she is. Put her back in the river, Mac. Let her freeze to death."
If someone calls on the phone (with no proof they are a law enforcement officer), says they have someone else's library card and demands personal identifying information about the owner of the card, I don't want that information given out willy-nilly without the proper procedures in place. The library followed the procedures, determined it was a legitimate law enforcement request and was ready to release the information within 10 minutes. What exactly is the problem with that?
So you're saying the police were going to leave her waiting in the freezing water until the library identified her? What if she had no card on her at all? Is that policy? "If we don't know exactly who you are, we don't pull you from the freezing water. Sorry, pal."
I don't entirely understand it. Presumably the card had her name on it, so it constitutes an ID in itself. Why would they need to consult the library? Well, I guess to get an address.
I thought mine had my address on it, but it just has my picture, my name, and the address of the library!
I think my old one did have my address, because I used it once for ID when I was out for a late walk ( around midnight . ) The cops were very polite and did not demand ID, but wanted to know what I was up to. I said I was out for a walk, and offered to show ID, and they seemed very happy about that, from which I inferred that they were not allowed to ask for it.
When I went digging through my wallet, it was the first thing I came to and I asked if that was all right, and they were again quite pleased with the offer. I think it had my address because they recognized it was nearby, corroborating my wild claim, and we parted like old friends.
Exactly. Lawsuits are needed to expose to the public what the libraries have done on their own that essentially protects the bad guys from the good guys, who include the police. Discovery is needed to find out how the law was written, amended, by whom, why, and what ties did they have to any library organization. And where did the funding come from to hire the lobbyists to pass or amend laws that essentially protect criminals and defy obvious common sense and community standards.
My point wasn't meant to be about this case but rather what it will take to get the policy changed. Somewhere, sometime, somebody will die, and the example will need to be made.
Doc, this was one of those keychain "cards" that is little more than a plastic barcode tag.
No. Other than blocking porn on library computers, I don't think that government has any place regulating which information can be released to whom. Court orders are easy enough to obtain for police investigations, and most anything else can be handled on a case-by-case basis.
You have a point, but for medical needs, it would be wise to get identifying information. Further, they refused the police request even after knowing it was really the police on the phone. An absolute lack of common sense here. You will admit that at least, correct?
The library said they concluded within 10 minutes that it was a legitimate request and they could provide the information. That seems to me a very reasonable timeframe. I think you're dreaming if you think a phone call to verify this would take less than a minute. In the real world, these things take longer. The person who answers the phone might not be entirely up to date with what's happening in the field, checks with his superiors who checks with the officers in the field, determines a request was made, gets back to the library with that info, etc. I can easily see that taking several minutes.
My library card only has a number. No name.
How do you know exactly when they "knew" it was really the police on the phone? When the officer said "This is Officer Jones"? They said they concluded within 10 minutes that it was a legitimate request they could comply with. I have no problem at all with that timeframe.
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