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#11601 - 11/18/01 01:57 AM When should tellers send their alarm?
PaulD Offline
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South Holland, IL
During a Security Training Session, a Branch Manager said that the bank she was previously employeed at taught their tellers to push their alarm button only after the robber(S) have left the building. We have always instructed our staff to send the alarm as soon as it is safe for them to do so (after the robber has left the teller station). Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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#11602 - 11/18/01 02:40 AM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
Andy_Z Offline
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If the PD happens to react quickly, you are liable to have the robber inside the bank with a bunch of potential hostages.

I'd wait until they are out and the door can be locked behind them, better preventing reentry.

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Andy Zavoina
Opinions stated are not necessarily that of my employer.

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#11603 - 11/19/01 08:50 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
Anonymous
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When you take into consideration the amount of money a robber will take, and balance that against the liability on the bank if the teller activates the alarm while the robber is still in the bank, the Police respond quickly and inappropriately and someone is seriously injured or killed, I think you have your answer right there. Put safety first and NEVER activate any alarm until the robber has left the bank. This will virtually eliminate any potential hostage situation.

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#11604 - 11/19/01 09:39 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
Nascar Fan Offline
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Posts: 92
East Texas
I too think it is best to wait until the robber leaves, but I will tell you we had a training session on bank robbery last week and were told (the instructor was with the FBI) to activate the alarm while the robber is still in the bank.


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#11605 - 11/20/01 01:02 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
Dana Turner Offline

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Dana Turner
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Pipe Creek TX - U.S.
Paul D and others:

An employee should only activate the alarm when he/she considers that it's safe to do so. "When it's safe to do so" is a decision that the employee must make -- based upon the time, place and circumstances surrounding the robbery event.

The bank's goal is to get the problem out of the building and into the parking lot where the cops can resolve it. The cops' goal is to bottle the problem up within the building and not risk allowing the robber to escape. Banks and cops are at odds over this issue.

Most cops that banks invite in to train their staffs take the same position as the FBI agent referenced in the thread. Speaking from experience, a cop's attention focuses upon apprehension -- and rightfully so. This response tactic is one that is taught in every police academy in the nation and is reinforced during periodic in-service training.

So -- when you invite cops in to train your staffs, discuss this issue with the cop before he/she delivers the presentation and share the bank's policies, procedures and goals. Resolve any issues and develop alternative solutions to the agency's position ahead of time. When the training's completed, remember to reinforce the bank's position with those persons who've attanded the training meeting.

Catching crooks is an exciting experience -- one that's better left to the cops. Preventing injuries and saving lives is still the Security Officer's #1 mission.

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Dana Turner
Security Education Systems
danaturner@bankersonline.com
830-535-6500
Opinions expressed are always those of my employer.

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#11606 - 01/25/02 08:34 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
Anonymous
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Speaking from experience - Only when it is safe to do so should one press the alarm! When is that? That is the hard part. I was working for a bank in July when a man with a baseball cap and handkerchief covering his face ran into the building with a gun drawn. The new accounts personnel hit their alarms as they went under their desks. The robber ordered everyone down and threatened to kill everyone if any alarms were activated. Corporate Security tried to call, but with no one answering the phones as ordered by the robber, they knew something was wrong. Police were dispatched to use caution as no response was received by the bank. Once he left, everyone scrambled to lock the doors, then called police and bank security.

Afterwards, specialists and FBI met with us. We were told that we did everything we were supposed to. Having your life threatened and watching another fellow employee roughened up is enough for anyone to want to comply, for safety sake. Our takeover was violent, but no one was really physically hurt. Two weeks later, the teller who took the brunt of it left the bank. Less than 2 months later, 2 other employess, including myself,left.

Always count the costs in any decision,life is precious and you can't put a price on it. It's great to think of what you would have done differently after the fact. But our training and robbery readiness came through like a charm!

And by the way, the robber hasn't been caught yet. But we much rather preferred he was gone and not in the building with us when police arrived.

My opinions are my own and are not necessarily expressed by my current employer.


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#11607 - 01/25/02 09:20 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
thomasj Offline
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Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 5,063
Pennsylvania
I agree that the alarm should only be set off after the robber has left, but I instruct my people to call 911. By the time that the alarm monitoring company calls the bank, then calls the police dispatcher, the dispatcher calls the bank, and finally dispatches the police it could be 10 minutes from the time the button is pushed until the police are even dispatched. The alarm buttons are nice, but a phone call directly to the 911 dispatcher is much quicker. Information about the suspect can be relayed more quickly to responding officers this way.

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#11608 - 01/28/02 01:42 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
waldensouth Offline
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You do have to know your local law enforcement and their competency level. When I was working for a previous employer, I went to one of our small banks to audit. I decided to test the alarm by pushing the button. We waited, and waited, and waited. No one came - no phone call - no response whatsoever. The police department (1 sheriff and 1 deputy) was across the street. So I called them wondering if our alarm was functioning properly. The answer I received, "well honey no one was back there in that room lookin at that board". It's a good thing it was only a test.

Perhaps a phone call after the fact would be better.

[This message has been edited by Louvera (edited 01-28-2002).]

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#11609 - 12/09/02 03:42 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
BOT1 Offline
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Florida
I think the industry standard is "when the employee believes it is safe to do so". If we're always going to activate the alarm only after the robber has left and the building is secure why do we spend all of the money to install silent alarm buttons? If that is to be the posture they might as well just pick up the phone and call 911?

Opinion shared is mine and not necessarily that of my employer.

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#11610 - 12/09/02 03:57 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
straw Offline
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The Robbery division here tells us that they do not want a hostage situation and do not want to arrive at the bank with the robber still inside. The have procedures to try to insure that the robber is gone before they enter.

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#11611 - 12/09/02 04:48 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
ahou Offline
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ahou
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It would work when the robbers grab the money & leave - but what if they decide to be violent before they leave. Who wants to wait to notify the police in that situation!
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#11612 - 12/09/02 05:37 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
BANNED BY BOL MANAGEMENT Offline
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You have a point with how the local police react an important issue. The preferred scenario has the employee setting off the alarm after the bad guys leave, but perhaps a second teller, or some other person, seeing what is going on, sets off the alarm prior to that event. As long as the local police have a procedure in place wherein they do not enter the building until they check out the situation, either alarm set-off works, but if they do not, you are placing everyone in harms way by setting off an alarm while bad guys are in the bank.

The bottomline is that on average robbers get a few thousand dollars per robbery, so that's not a sufficient amount to place anyone in harms way. Also, this "feel safe" thing is overrated, as how can anyone achieve "feel safe" when someone that is probably on drugs and has a weapon is in the area looking at you for money? It's just not rational to ever achieve "feel safe" in that environment.

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#11613 - 12/09/02 05:51 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
Lestie G Offline

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No amount is sufficient to place anyone in harm's way.

The schools of thought are going to vary greatly depending on the thinker's personal experiences. I worked for a CEO once who was beyond adamant that no one did anything until the perps were out of the bank. His family was placed in jeopardy as a result of someone tripping an alarm before the robbers were out of the bank. What the helpful alarm tripper didn't know was that the robbers had been in touch with the CEO prior to coming into the bank, threatening to injure his family if they didn't make it in and out without law enforcement around.
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#11614 - 12/09/02 08:08 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
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Sounds like a training issue, or perhaps a communications issue, as the CEO should have made it clear as to what policy was to be followed. I'm a believer in no alarm until after the bad guy is out the door and the door is locked.

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#11615 - 12/09/02 08:48 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
LiL Bit Moore Offline
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This has brought up an interesting point and hopefully will assist my efforts to encourage mgmt to update all of our surveillance equipment. We currently still have, at one of our locations, surveillance equipment that does not record until the alarm is tripped. After an audit of physical security, I recommended updating the surveillance equipment to constant recording, and this topic should provide additional backing. Thanks!
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#11616 - 12/09/02 08:56 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
Michelle M Offline
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Another thing you may want to mention to Management is that the camaras can be used in employee theft cases too, which is a time when the alarm wouldn't be set off at all.
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#11617 - 12/09/02 09:08 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
Data Offline
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I appreciate the thread. We are beginning Robbery Training this week at 6 branches. I am in complete agreement on making sure the employees and customers are safe (and the robbers gone) before we activate the robbery procedures.
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#11618 - 12/09/02 09:23 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
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Constant recording is the only way to go. It's not that expensive and it's a real plus in so many additional areas, such as recording ATM customer transactions, transactions at the teller line, etc. We also have cameras in our parking area, so if a robbery takes place, it's a safe bet that we will secure a picture or two from different angles.

I would hate to think that some teller pulled the alarm, feeling "safe," but simply mis-judged the situation, with someone else (or the teller) paying a huge price for a few thousand dollars. Therefore, the bank should take care of the situation with cameras - it's a small price. Besides, the equipment is amortized over several years, so the cost is only a few bucks a month!

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#11619 - 12/09/02 09:45 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
LiL Bit Moore Offline
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Texas
Thanks! I did point out that surveillance can be beneficial and assist with investigations involving transactions/circumstances that may not prompt the alarms -such as insider theft. And in my experience, I have referred to recordings for this purpose much more often than for robbery.

I often think we have the cameras pointing the wrong way!
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#11620 - 12/09/02 09:51 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
Michelle M Offline
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In reply to:

I often think we have the cameras pointing the wrong way!



It's sad to say but sometimes it's true. I guess that's where strict new hire screening comes in.

If you will be installing new cameras I would concider digital and color.
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#11621 - 12/09/02 10:14 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
LiL Bit Moore Offline
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Texas
Thanks Grist, I agree, the benefits of constant recording heavily outweighs costs, and most of our locations have been updated. But one of the difficulties in selling internal control recommendations is managments tendancy to be reactive vs. proactive, and physical security issues tend to be among the worst. Some bank mgmt that have never been involved in a robbery tend to live in denial, thefore, minimum security standards are accepted.

I try to consider the degree of risk vs. reward, the cost of implementation and probablility when performing audits and making recomendations, and imo, employee safety is a difficult area. The probability of occurrence may be low, but that one time could be way too costly!

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#11622 - 12/09/02 10:25 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
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The interesting part is when you catch someone doing bad things via a camera that they know is pointing at them!


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#11623 - 12/09/02 10:26 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
Anonymous
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Exactly...our tellers are trained that, after the robbery, once the door has been locked, immediately go to the nearest phone and call 911...give the Dispatcher all details of the robbery, including a description of the robber and any getaway vehicle...then, activate the alarm. By leaving it up to a teller when it is safe could cost a teller or a customer their life...the Security Officer's job is to protect the bank's customers and employees...a successful robbery is when no one gets hurt...I would never give a teller (some of these people are 17 year old high school co-ops) the judgment call to determine when it is safe to activate an alarm...SAFETY FIRST...activate after the robber is gone...just my opinion, but this stance should keep me off the witness stand in the event a teller is shot and killed in a hostage situation because he or she activated an alarm while the robber was still in the bank.

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#11624 - 12/09/02 10:37 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
Michelle M Offline
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It's funny this thread came alive today. I am currently rewritting our security program including robbery procedures. "activate any alarms or cameras only when it is safe to do so" hmmmmmmmmmmm........ I think I'll rewrite that one.
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#11625 - 12/09/02 11:49 PM Re: When should tellers send their alarm?
thomasj Offline
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Posts: 5,063
Pennsylvania
I train "when it is safe to do so" and then go on to explain that in most cases it is safe when the robber has left. When dealing with something like this, I want to stay away from saying in every case you should wait until the robber has left because there are so many potential scenarios. If I would train that you never trip the alarm when the robber is in the bank, and an unforseen situation comes up when they should sound an alarm with the robber there, I am opening myself and the bank up for a huge liability. I try to give guidence on what to do, but ultimately I want to leave the decision to the person who is in potential danger.
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