Sunday, October 1, 2023

Bank Robbery Seminar Aids Teller Targets 5.31.2006

By Al Campbell

Bankrob wp 5.31 al
Bank Robbery
Seminar Aids
Teller Targets
CREST HAVEN – Growth brings business. Business brings money. Banks are where the money is stashed, thus they’re targets of bank robbers.
 Innocent tellers become the real victims of such crimes, the effects of which often linger months and years.
 Since two robberies took place this year at the same Rio Grande bank, Middle Township Patrolman Richard McHale hatched the idea to hold a bank robbery seminar for tellers.
 Geared toward those potential victims, attended by about 50 from six banks, the May 23 event at the county Public Safety Training Center included a S.W.A.T. team member, FBI special agent, victim witness advocate and critical incident stress management team member.
 With increased population and economic growth, comes a “share of bad apples,” McHale said.
 As he addressed the “stakeholders,” who might get a gun or knife in their face as cash is demanded, McHale wanted them to know “Our primary concern is your safety first.”
 While some banks have better, digital surveillance cameras, others have aging video equipment, which often renders sharp details by which a robber may be identified, he said.
 McHale urged tellers to be watchful, questioning and diligent, if they observe unusual activity in or around the bank.
 “You know who your customers are,” he said.
 During one of those recent robberies, he said, a teller noticed that the robber was overdressed for the rather mild day of the crime.
 Slides of various types of weapons were shown, so that tellers would know the difference in description of guns.
 In the aftermath of a crime, FBI Agent Joseph Fury urged tellers not to touch anything related to the crime or crime scene.
 Cpl. James Dougherty of Middle Township Police Department’s S.W.A.T. team, displayed the variety of weapons and other gear that officers would use, should they have to enter a bank to answer a call. He reassured the tellers that the team possesses adequate firepower to overcome a suspect.
 Caution and cooperation were urged, keeping in mind the teller’s life and safety is of utmost importance.
 Claire McCardle, Victim Witness coordinator of the county Prosecutor’s Office detailed services available to tellers who may become victims of a robbery.
 “The bank is seen as the victim, but it’s the teller in the front line of defense,” she said.
 Her office stands ready to assist with one on one or group counseling after a robbery that often impacts the entire bank staff, not just the teller.
 “Hopefully, you won’t ever need me,” McCardle said.
 “Nobody ever tells you what to do after,” said Diana Brunnell, a longtime member of the Critical Incident Stress Management Team. They attempt to respond within 12 hours of an incident, she added.
 Her group responds to “critical incidences” in which a person had a gun or knife pulled on them, and which may trigger psychological responses long afterward.
 “Remember, the effects vary from one person to another,” said Brunnell.
 “We try to get people to talk about what happened…it reduces the impact of the event,” she added.
 “Most of us think we are superhuman, that nothing is going to happen to us,” she said.
 Fury urged tellers to always be alert and ask themselves, “What if?”
 “You are the most important piece of evidence for us as agents,” he said.
 He also advised tellers who may become victims not to talk to media representatives, but to let police and FBI handle press information.
 “We will never put your picture of name in the paper,” he said.
 “Most robbers are serial bank robbers,” said Fury. “Rarely do we see them once. If they get away, they try again.
 “Over 75 percent are drug and alcohol related, it’s a vice, a lot of what we see,” he added.
 “Be vigilant. Have the will to survive,” Fury said.
Contact Campbell at (609) 886-8600 Ext 28 or:

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