Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk.
Bank and credit union personnel receive training.
Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk hosted training for local banks and credit unions. He said that in 2011 in Utah there were 26 bank robberies. In 2013 that number increased to 70 robberies. It's estimated in 2014 there will be 150-200 bank robberies in Utah.
Sheriff Funk said people rob banks for various reasons, but criminals see banks as easy targets. Robbers will sometimes rob banks to get money to buy drugs. There are a large number of banks and credit unions and they are open longer and in more locations than ever before.
Sheriff Funk instructed the bank personnel that if they ever get put in this situation where someone is demanding money, they need to comply and comply quickly. Most bank robberies last no longer than 60 seconds.
Comply with the bank robber and stay safe. "Be a good witness, be able to give a good description of the bank robber. Give them the money and then let the law enforcement do their job apprehending the bank robber. Your safety and the safety of the customers is the most important thing. In bank robberies nationwide in 2011, there were 13 people killed along with two police officers and 10 suspects. In one/third of bank robberies a weapon is used. Sometimes a suspect will claim he has a bomb and threaten people with force.
"In most bank robberies, the suspect will hand the teller a note. If you are working in the bank and someone makes you uncomfortable or is acting suspicious then call 911. If someone is nervous or appears out of place let us know. It is better to error on the side of caution and if it turns out to be a false alarm, then that's great. Don't be afraid to use the resources that are available. We would rather send our deputies out and respond quickly to any situation than for someone to wait to contact us in a situation where time is of the essence. We encourage all our banks and credit unions to have the best cameras and surveillance equipment that's available. Take advantage of the technology that's available today. Equipment needs to be able to get good pictures of faces. Robbers will try to hide their identity. They will use glasses, hats and hoodies as part of their disguise. Have cameras everywhere inside and outside. Outside cameras can detect if someone is using an escape vehicle and can give good pictures of what type of vehicle it is.
"Be a good witness, take note of clothing, height, weight, male or female, age, tattoos or identifying characteristics, license plate number. Some bank robbers are professional and some are strictly amateur," said Sheriff Funk.
As part of the training one of the deputies appeared in the room imitating a bank robber and then those present were asked to describe the man and his weapon.
Rural areas and small towns comprise 33-40 percent of robberies. Drugs drive people to desperate acts. Mothers will give up their children to get drugs. Most bank robbers are caught because robberies happen during the day when there are witnesses around. The Smiths robbery in Price happened last November the day before Thanksgiving in a crowded store. There were plenty of witnesses.
Sheriff Funk encouraged everyone to be aware but not be afraid. Knowing what to do under serious circumstances and training for it will go a long way if that training is ever needed in a robbery situation.