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Great Falls Public Library hires safety specialists

Great Falls Public Library hires safety specialists
Posted at 3:38 PM, Apr 09, 2024

GREAT FALLS — In June of 2023, Great Falls voters passed a closely contested levy for the Great Falls Public Library. Part of the money raised from the passage goes to providing new safety specialists. Recently, those positions were filled.

John Roberts and Lukas Meier may be the new faces at the Great Falls Public Library, but their background in providing public safety is extensive.

“20 years,” said Roberts when asked how long he’s been working in safety and security positions.

“I probably have about four or five years under my belt security-wise, but safety and security has been in my mindset for a very long time, since I was very little,” said Meier.

Even before the library levy vote, the facility developed a master plan. Surveys, focus groups, and interviews showed some people didn’t feel safe coming to the library.

“So our safety specialists are here to provide presence,” said Great Falls Public Library director Susie McIntyre. “They will be patrolling. They're not security guards. They don't have handcuffs. They are not going to be arresting anyone. They will be helping parents feel safe coming into the library.”

“I feel like having our presence here is really going to help that, especially when people start to recognize what we do and what we're supposed to be doing so that if there is an issue, someone is feeling unsafe, they can find us and we can take care of that,” said Roberts.

“We will working with a lot of different areas,” said Meier. “Part of the things that we are going to be doing is going down to the kids area during kids programs and just making sure that everything's safe down there and kind of helping them along with that as well.”

According to McIntyre, both men will be earning just under $44,700 a year for the full-time positions.

While behavior problems aren’t a constant issue at the library, they do arise from time to time.

McIntyre hopes the safety specialists’ presence will take a burden off the city’s first responders and other staff members who are doing their job.

“There are a lot of people who are homeless that are down here. There are a lot of people who have mental health issues who are here. There are a lot of people who have substance abuse that are here. And we as a community have those problems” said McIntyre. “And so the library is an open, welcoming public space. And when a community has a problem, it often surfaces in public spaces. And so we are doing our very best to make a great library that provides all the services that people need.”

The two men are in training now. In June, the library will be open seven days a week for the first time since 2014 and the safety specialists will be on duty every day the library is open.