5-Year-Old Shaken Down by Police For Overdue Library Books

5-year-old Hailey (source: CBS Boston)

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

Shannon Benoit of Charlton, MA, is still upset that her local library sent police to retrieve overdue library books borrowed by her five year old, Hailey. “I thought it was way overboard,” she said, and likened it to “pounding a ten penny nail with a sledgehammer.”

Police Sergeant Dan Dowd, was not in any way mean or aggressive when he informed them about the two books, which were a few months overdue. But, he was a uniformed officer sent because of Hailey, which made her burst into tears when the door was shut. She asked her mom if she would be arrested. “I was scared,” she said.

Why are libraries reporting and petitioning police to help collect fees for overdue books — is this really the best way to protect and serve the public?

News articles are quick to point out that it is a misdemeanor to keep library books, their way of justifying the action. The local police thought a “friendly” reminder would be better than a court summons.

A court summons.

For overdue library books.

Sergeant Dowd admits that the officers did not want to get involved in this case. The assignment, however, was delegated by the Chief after the library phone call. Dowd says he must have been one of “low men on the totem pole.”

The unnamed director of Charlton library is receiving flak, which she expected, but claimed her phone call to law enforcement was a last resort aimed at the worst offenders. She says they only do this after sending many ignored notices, emails, and phone call warnings.

The family insists there has been no contact about the missing books. They have recently found and returned them, but are still upset with the extreme measure.

“There’s got to be a better way to do it,” says Hailey’s father. Shannon added, “It is ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, a laundry list of corporate and government crimes are being overlooked, and police have been enlisted as their protectors.


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