'Bandit Shield' Discourages Would-be Robbers

Program compiles robbery prevention best practices into a comprehensive training program.

April 12, 2012
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While robberies may be accepted as a fact of life at some financial institutions, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and San Antonio Police Department recently launched a program that shows it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Bandit Shield Program is only in its first few months of testing in the San Antonio area, but it’s already making waves. The program’s primary purpose is to prevent financial institution robberies and to assist all levels of law enforcement with robbery investigations.

Bandit Shield compiles financial institutions’ best practices into a comprehensive training program. Once a financial institution complies with most of the program’s requirements, it places a decal in the window indicating it’s a highly secure facility.

Local law enforcement and the FBI collaborated to develop the program with input from financial institutions about the most effective methods they use to deter robberies and aid in solving crimes.

San Antonio Credit Union (SACU) is one institution that contributed best practice suggestions to the program. The $2.9 billion credit union institution also received the first decal in the area, showing the credit union has complied with the program’s strict security and training requirements.

Jim Peters, SACU’s loss prevention officer (pictured at top of page, third from right), says the credit union is robbed about once a year despite its dedication to maintaining up-to-date security policies.

“You’d like to think that all financial institutions are giving 110% toward robbery policies, procedures, or processes,” says Peters. “But like so many companies in other industries, some have really good and well-established procedures and some have barely any at all. At SACU we try to stay on the cutting edge of that.”

Peters says Bandit Shield is one more way it can stay on top of the best security practices.

Erik Vasys, FBI special agent and media coordinator, San Antonio Division (pictured at top of page, second from left), explains why the program should make a dent in the number of robberies and escaped robbers.

“Bandit Shield provides a uniform base of training for financial institutions that we know works,” says Vasys. “All the things that we emphasize in this training are things that have been proven to work. The FBI hasn’t invented anything new; we’ve just gathered up best practices.”

Vasys says it’s common for the FBI to interview financial institution robbers once they’re in custody.

“When we arrest a bank robber we talk to them,” he says. “If they’re cooperative, we ask them what works and what doesn’t work, and why they picked a certain bank.”

This helps law enforcement address those financial institutions’ weaknesses.

Next: Training is crucial

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