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Training is crucial
To develop Bandit Shield, the FBI also received input from an Austin, Texas-based FBI agent with extensive experience working financial institution robberies in Los Angeles—what Vasys calls the "Mecca” of financial institution robberies.
Bandit Shield is optional (and free) for financial institutions. Vasys says staff training is crucial to prepare for robberies.
“Training is what it’s all about,” he says. “We want tellers to be versed in the realities of what happens in bank robberies. That should affect how they interact with a bank robber.”
“Staff need to be informed of the dos and the don’ts during a robbery,” Peters echoes.
While most guidelines involved in the Bandit Shield Program are confidential, there’s one piece of advice all financial institutions should take, says Vasys.
“Everybody knows there are cameras in banks; that’s no secret,” he says. “But what we’re asking to do with Bandit Shield is to update their cameras to the best resolution they can afford.”
There’s an 80% to 90% chance, he says, that a robber lives near the financial institution he robs, so the best thing a financial institution can do is get a good photograph of the robber to put on the news.
“That’s where the marriage of the community and law enforcement begins in solving a crime,” says Vasys. “It’s really the public that’s solving these crimes.”
And if a financial institution needed any other reason to ramp up its security, Vasys says imprisoned robbers have a tendency to discuss how they got caught, which financial institutions to avoid, and other information.
“The word gets out as to who’s vulnerable,” he says.
Peters says communication between law enforcement and financial institutions to catch robbers is a new concept—but one that’s proving very beneficial.
He says Bandit Shield has had a “tremendous” effect on employee morale, as well.
“It shows that law enforcement is really trying to look over our shoulder and give us the best of practices,” he says. “And employees see we’re doing about everything we can do” to prevent robberies.
Other advice Peters offers credit unions for combating robbery:
- Educate staff, management, and the board of directors about robbery prevention best practices;
- Designate someone to be an in-house to stay on the cutting edge of robbery prevention measures;
- Consult with other financial institutions about what works for them; and
- Collaborate with local, state, and national law enforcement.
Next: Follow proper security procedures