Flagler County FL March 11 2019 Flagler County Interim Administrator Jerry Cameron has ordered the deployment of “round-the-clock” armed security at the Flagler County Public Library in Palm Coast in response to mounting pressure by the library director and a county commissioner to address safety concerns in the library, which has become common ground for a community of some three dozen homeless people or more who live in a camp in the woods west of the library.
The county will have one armed guard from its current security contractor, Allied Universal Security Services, which provides security guards at the Government Services Building and at Sally’s Safe Haven, for example–the location in Bunnell where supervised parental visits with their children take place. A guard would be posted for all 62 hours a week that the library is open, Cameron said in an interview this afternoon.
“I feel the safety of county employees in that situation is paramount,” Cameron said of the 16-odd employees who work at the Palm Coast branch. He said the same concern applies to patrons. The guard will not have arresting powers, but can throw people out of the library if they violate the library’s code of conduct, and summon police when necessary. “Anyone in the library that violates the law, assaults people or does things contrary to the standards of decency will be trespassed,” Cameron said.
No staffer at the library has been assaulted, nor has there been criminal incidents, but Library Director Holly Albanese said that her staff have been intimidated, at times harassed and yelled at, her library furniture has been urinated on, her floors have been defecated on–beyond bathroom stalls–and there’s been various discoveries of syringes in and outside the library, along with other paraphernalia suggesting drug activity. Littering on library grounds has also been an issue, she said.
Albanese set up a projector in the library’s Doug Cisney room this morning and showed reporters a long series of photographs what she and her staff–and patrons–have been contending with. She’d shown the photographs to Cameron the previous day during a meeting, and at one point had showed them to Commissioner Joe Mullins, who stood next to her this morning, along with Flagler County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Gerald Ditolla, who’s in charge of the Palm Coast precinct’s policing and has frequent contact with the homeless in the library community. (“I’ve been back in the camp many times. They’re good people,” Ditolla said, making every effort not to demonize the homeless.)