Crime at Austin Public Libraries

Newly obtained crime statistics give us a revealing look at what is happening inside Austin libraries. FOX 7 made the request after police arrested a man-- accused of trying to sexually assault a girl in a library bathroom last weekend. Police say he tried to grab another girl as well.

A library security officer watches as surveillance cameras flash from branch to branch.

Some of the angles come from cameras added after the library system experienced a 31 percent increase in crime five years ago. More security officers were also hired.

Despite advances in security-- crime still occurs.

Last Saturday an 8-year-old girl told police Hubert Justin Powell came into her bathroom stall at the North Village Branch Library, covered her mouth with both hands and pulled off her shorts.

Staff and library patrons rescued her, while keeping Powell on the property until police arrived.

Powell told officers if it would've been more than five minutes he would've raped her.

Police say he also tried to grab an 11-year-old girl.

"I was appalled immediately. I still am appalled. This is nothing anybody feels should take place in a library,” said John Gillum, Austin Public Library Facilities Process Manager.

John Gillum heads up security for Austin Public Library. He says north village library staff and security officers will be conducting an event review.

"Try to see if our response was good and quick,” said Gillum. “Is there any we can improve upon how we deal with security incidents?"

To get a better understanding of crime at Austin libraries, FOX 7 pulled the records of what the city deems "violations" at each branch.

Days short of fiscal year 2016, which ends Friday, we found 2,646 violations.

The top violation was theft 400, followed by disturbing others 333 and harassment 281.

Crimes sexual in nature are less significant with indecent exposure at 36, public lewdness 26, sexual harassment 19 and voyeurism and peeping 11.

Faulk Central Library had the most violations at 604.

The safest library, going off of violation count, was the Howson Branch in Tarrytown. There were nine total violations.

Gillum says he will double security staff when the new central library opens next spring. There are currently 15 employed.

General library staff goes through 16 hours of security training.

To protect children-- those under the age of 10 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over 17. Signs mark the entrances to youth areas. Those not accommodating teens and children will be asked to move to other sections.

As Gillum studies the north village incident, it is possible more security enhancements will be added.

"It just makes me a dedicated job and trying to keep it from happening again,” said Gillum.

Download your library crime here.

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