Winnipeg’s Millennium Library reopens with walk-through metal detector 6 weeks after fatal stabbing

A walk-through metal detector, security screeners and uniformed police officers are now part of the experience at Winnipeg’s Millennium Library as the city tries to address violence at the downtown building.

But it’s still a place to relax and read, City of Winnipeg chief administrative officer Michael Jack says.

“Beyond that, this is the library you know and this is what it looks like,” he told reporters on Monday as the lights of an airport-style screening area glowed behind him.

The downtown facility reopened Monday for the first time since the stabbing death of Tyree Cayer, 28, on Dec. 11. Four teenage boys — two 14-year-olds, a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old — have been charged in his death.

Asked if he believes the new measures will make staff and the public feel safer and more confident using the library, Jack said “we’re hoping.”

“We know not everyone will be, we know there’s a real division of opinion about these measures — some would like us to go further, some didn’t want us to have to come this far,” he said.

“No building can be guaranteed to be safe. We do think these are reasonable measures.”

A man in a grey beard and glasses, and wearing a beige suit jacket looks to the right of the photo frame.
City of Winnipeg CAO Michael Jack speaks to reporters Monday at the Millennium Library in downtown Winnipeg. (Darin Morash/CBC)

The strict security is an interim measure, Jack said, repeating what the city has been saying since it became clear earlier this month that was the direction in which the library was headed.

The city is waiting for recommendations from a comprehensive risk and security audit of the facility before deciding on any permanent changes.

“We really do want to be relying upon expertise here … [but] security needs to be paramount in this interim phase,” Jack said.

The hope is to be able to use “less obvious or less intrusive” means to make the space safer, he said.

“Everything is on the table right now. This really is a work in progress. We didn’t foresee the tragic death that was going to precipitate closing.”

The initial set of recommendations from the security consultant is expected within a few weeks. That will need to be evaluated by the city before any decisions are made about the next steps, Jack said.

“We have asked them, of course, to make a whole host of recommendations, including items we can act on very quickly,” he said.

The review will also look at the library’s entire layout, furniture and amenities.

“Anything we can act on immediately, without needing more budget from [city] council, we will be acting on,” Jack said, adding that bigger measures may require asking the city for more money.

The current measures are costing the library “in excess of $10,000 a week,” he said.

A lineup of people, seen from above, wait to enter a metal detector to enter a library.
A line of people stretches into the Millennium Library foyer, waiting to pass through the new metal detector. (Cameron MacLean/CBC)

This is the second time the library has increased security at the entrance. It was beefed up in 2019 with security screeners checking bags and using metal detector wands on visitors.

The measures were met with an immediate backlash and scrapped the next year.

The current walk-through detector — which cost $6,000 — is focused on finding weapons, not food and alcohol and other items that security had taken out of bags during the last go-round.

“There is no interest, in this interim measure, in detecting anything other than weapons,” Jack said. “That’s all our security personnel will be instructed to look for.”

Uniformed officers are present to deal with other illegal activity. They will patrol both the inside and outside of the facility, Jack said.

Library visits dropped in 2019 to 608,692, more than 300,000 fewer visits than in 2017 (861,9970) and well below 2018 (855,192). When that data came out last month, the city attributed the decrease to the enhanced security measures.

On Monday, Jack said he fully expects another drop-off.

“We know this will likely result in another drop in attendance in the first few weeks but we also know it’s an interim measure,” he said. “We tried our best to find the balance we needed to get open again, bearing in mind the significant concerns being raised by staff for their own safety.

“I don’t think the interim measures are the right long-term balance. I’m hoping with some more thoughtful measures in place, we can get there.”

View original article here Source