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CCPD, FBI, local bankers discuss robbery, prevention procedures

By Staff | Nov 18, 2010

Local banks and the Cape Coral Police Department got on the same page Thursday to improve the handling and prevention of future robberies.
The department hosted a bank safety workshop with the goal of creating a better understanding toward what each party’s responsibilities, policies and procedures are when dealing with a bank robbery. The workshop focused on how to respond in the event of a bank robbery and how to work together.
“It was bringing the two groups together,” Officer Gerald Moll of the CCPD’s Operations Division said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation also was present. Bank monies are federally insured, so while local law enforcement are the first-responders, the FBI investigates the crime in conjunction with local authorities. The FBI also can become more involved if someone is prosecuted for the crime.
FBI Special Agent James M. Roncinske of the Fort Myers office said prevention was discussed, such as being vigilant of suspicious people or vehicles and being alert. They also talked about what to do afterward, like separating witnesses to avoid tainting their recollection of the event.
“It’s to understand law enforcement’s response,” Roncinske added.
According to Moll, there was one bank robbery in the city in 2009 and one in 2008. In 2007, there were three robberies, but no robberies so far this year.
The national average for solved bank robberies is 60 percent, while the CCPD is slightly above that with an arrest rate of 75 percent for bank robberies.
“I think we’re actually doing good,” he said.
The workshop also covered securing evidence and relaying information, and the importance of calling 911 in a timely manner. Moll reported that some of the challenges for the department are the use of new technology by banks and temporary bank employees not being educated on police procedures.
“Their personal safety is paramount,” he added.
Assistant Branch Manager Melanie Emmerich of Florida Gulf Bank attended the workshop. She called the information presented “extremely beneficial.”
“I think it made us more in tune with the police department, what they have to look at and what we have to look at,” Emmerich said. “It strengthens your awareness to look around at your surroundings and just be alert, think about the safety first for our employees and any clients.”
She was surprised to learn about the CCPD’s victim’s advocate program, which offers witnesses, or victims, someone to talk to after the incident. Emmerich said she intends to get that information out to their branches.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” she said. “And the state of Florida pays for it.”
According to Moll, there are more than 16 financial institutions in the city, with up to 50 bank branches. The workshop was open to all banks within the Cape, large or small. About 95 percent of the banks participated Thursday.
Linda Bancroft, assistant vice president and manager of the TIB Bank office on Hancock Bridge Parkway, said many in attendance were bank managers.
“It was very informative. It was a refresher for many of us,” she said.
“It was nice to get to understand their side of what they do to keep us safe,” Bancroft added, noting that with the holiday season approaching, the workshop was “incredibly helpful.”
“We all need to refresh on this and bring it back to our employees to the keep our employees safe and our customers safe,” she said.
Moll agreed.
“It helps increase a safer environment for the customer base,” he said of the workshop. “Customers exposed to an armed robbery become victims as well and have to deal with a very traumatic experience.”