A library in the Massachusetts town of Charlton — population 13,000 — sicced the police on a 5-year-old who hadn’t returned a couple of overdue library books, leaving the girl in tears and her parents furious.
CBS Boston reported that Sgt. Dan Dowd knocked on the door of the Benoit family to inform little Hailey that two books were several months past due, and needed either to be returned or paid for.
“I thought it was way overboard,” Shannon Benoit, Hailey’s mom, told WBZ-TV reporter Ken MacLeod. “I closed my door, I looked at my daughter and she started crying.”
Shannon Benoit said her daughter wanted to know if she was going to be taken to jail.
“I was scared,” Hailey told MacLeod.
Sgt. Dowd said he wasn’t hot on the assignment of having to track down the young library book offender, “but apparently I was one of the low men on the totem pole,” he told the reporter.
The library contacted the police, claiming that the Benoits hadn’t responded to several reminders via telephone, email and snail mail. Failing to return library books is a misdemeanor in Massachusetts, and police could have sent a summons, but thought a friendly visit would be more appropriate.
The director of the library said police were notified of the dozen worst offenders, who owed some $4,000 in missing books, MacLeod reported.
Hailey’s parents insist they were never warned that the books were outstanding prior to the police visit. The books have since been returned.
“I understand they want to get it back, but I just think there’s got to be a better way to do it,” Hailey’s dad, Tony Benoit, told MacLeod.
—JOE GREENE, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM