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Communicate With Law Enforcement!

By Brooke Blake

When's the last time you had branch robbery discussion meeting and included the uniformed patrol Officer who handles your branch area? You may have tried & learned he/she is not allowed to attend such meetings. If you request such a meeting, the police often may try to send you the Sargent for the area, or a crime prevention Officer from the police force. What you really need is the Patrol Officer that covers your branch...not to make a speech, but to become familiar with your robbery response training, the alarm systems, the all clear signals, and the coded calls. As part of what the Patrol Officer can bring to the table, he or she should be able to tell you where the police vehicle will park, and how an employee should walk out as an all clear signal.

For lack of good communication between the branches and law enforcement, there are almost too many coded calls made before Police Dispatch even sends Police units in some areas. This lack of understanding can often account for as much as five minutes delay - which gives the robber way too much time to disappear. Experts realize this may be the main reason the Federal Bureau of Investigation says the average robber may pull as many as seven robberies before they get caught. Our industry's lack of getting good description called in quickly to 911 accounts for most of this. The alarm company only calls Police Dispatch to report a hold up alarm. The Police then make a coded call & finally dispatch.

All of this is starting to make a believer that the 911 call by the victim is more important than a bill trap or button alarm.Some banks have reported getting a busy signal or being put on hold when a post robbery call is made to 911. Volume and lack of communication with law enforcement are often causes of this. When this problem happens the financial institution and law enforcement must work together to reduce the odds of this happening again. Options might be a call to the Police Robbery Squad simultaneous with a call to 911. Also, the FBI is not notified in a timely manner. Good descriptions of the clothing, perpetrators, weapons, and getaway vehicles on each of these calls is essential so that the information can be passed/radioed to responding units. Responding units seldom get a radio description and the robbers could easily just pass the Police units going the other way. We can't blame the police for not catching robbers if they don't get a timely description that enables them to recognize them.

The police really do appreciate being informed of what our plans are. If your city hasn't had a meeting with the police and the FBI about robbery response, 2004 might be a good time to start. Add to your discussion "SARP" - Safe Alarm Response Plan so you can reduce the risk of a Police Officer walking in the branch while robbers are still inside.

Brooke is an Advisor to the Bankers' Hotline. He is the President of Bank Security Network - Training & Development in Atlanta, Georgia. He can be reached at 770-533-9902.

Copyright © 2004 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 13, No. 10, 1/04

First published on 01/01/2004

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