I dearly hope this doesn't become a regular feature.
Around 3PM yesterday afternoon, a university police officer strolled in. She came behind the desk and told us she'd received a call that someone was trying to sell pot in the building. What? Where? Who? Price?
She gave a description of the individual who was wearing a very easily spotted shirt. She asked us if we knew who it could be. My co-worker and I shrugged our shoulders. This was the first we had heard of it. Supposedly, the individual was selling it on the main floor. What? The main floor is pretty open. There aren't many places to hide and a lot of activity had been going on the floor with computers being moved in and out. I would hope we'd notice someone trying to sell weed in front of us.
Another officer came in. He talked to the other cop. They decided to search the lower floors. Then the best part of this thing happened, they asked us to stall anyone fitting the description who tried to leave. What? How? Who? Compensation?
Luckily, before the officers disappeared into the stacks, a third officer came in who could watch the exit. The officers searched the lower floors and came up empty handed. I knew I had seen the shirt they had described, but couldn't remember where. As I was scanning the floor, my eyes landed on a regular community member. He was sitting in the back corner of the main floor where he usually does. From what I could see of his shirt, it could be the one they described.
This put me in a predicament. The community member in question was actually one of our best behaved members. I'd say he was a gentleman even. He said hello to library personnel in the morning and bye when he left. I remember once he held the door for me and chatted amicably with me when we both happened to go outside for a smoke break. He did not have to be told to leave when we 'closed' to the public. He read the paper everyday. Yes, he did sleep, but he did not snore. He used the computers sparingly. All in all, a pleasant enough individual, but he appeared to be wearing the T-shirt described. I couldn't decide if I should alert the officers or not. I worried that if I pointed him out, the officers would take it as some sort of indictment. I didn't want this individual harassed if he were innocent.
I don't know if the officers heard me consulting with my co-worker about what we should do, or if they'd picked up on him on their own, but when they'd regrouped on the main floor, they went directly to the back to where this individual was seated, looked at him, and asked him if he would step outside with them. When he stood up, I realized where I had seen the shirt they had described. The community member had been wearing it. Oh dear. As they escorted the man out, he caught my eye and shrugged his shoulders good humorly like he didn't know what the problem was. I shrugged my shoulders in return. The officer asked if I knew him. I froze. No, I didn't 'know' him. I didn't know his name, or where he lived, or if he had a job, and if you did find he was selling weed, well, I didn't know his character at all either it would seem.
That's the most disheartening part of all this. That we could've been mislead so easily by a patron and our trust so badly abused.
I still don't know for sure if they did find anything on the community member, but I did see them pat him down, put him in handcuffs, and lead him away, and he's not here today.