Rehearsing for a Robbery

Article excerpt

Rehearsing for a Robbery

ARMED ROBBERY CREATES A dangerous situation for employees of many businesses and financial institutions. Businesses can, and should, provide procedural training for their employees to minimize that risk.

Training employees in ways to deal with a robbery can reduce victims' psychological trauma. As a result, businesses benefit--victims can return to full productivity sooner than if they had never received any guidance. Exposing employees to robbery response training can also increase their confidence and better prepare them for hazards, reducing physical risk and resulting in a safer work environment.

Local police officials also benefit from companies who train workers in robbery response. When employees have been trained, investigators can respond to crime scenes that have been effectively secured, and police officers should receive better suspect descriptions from the victims.

Training programs for potential robbery victims generally fall into one of three categories: off-site, on-site, and role-playing or mock robbery training.

Off-site training requires removing trainees from their work environment and in some cases from their fellow workers. The trainer then exposes the trainees to information, displays, and audiovisuals. These sessions may occur in auditoriums, hotels, or other areas big enough to accommodate a large group. The benefit of off-site training is that the maximum number of trainees is reached in a minimum of sessions. Disadvantages of off-site training include too many distractions and the inability of employees to train with their own work group.

Employee training is best accomplished at the actual business location. On-site training incorporates all the design characteristics, both good and bad, of the work environment. Obviously, knowing how to use the business's layout reduces risk to the employee. As with off-site training, displays should be used to augment any lecture.

The business location is also the site of the third type of training, the mock robbery program. All the benefits of on-site training are used with the mock robbery program, and now role-playing is added. Role-playing can uniquely educate employees to the dangers inherent in any robbery. In addition, participating in and observing a mock robbery helps employees describe suspects, secure evidence, and familiarize themselves with the needs of law enforcement officers.

Mock robbery training can be conducted by company employees. However, many communities in the United States have law enforcement agencies that routinely provide mock robbery training, as well as the other training methods. Law enforcement agencies have always been partners with businesses in reducing robbery risk, but police investigators also benefit. They receive quality information from trained employees after a robbery takes place.

One Spokane, WA, case documented the robbery of two victims by the same criminal in less than one hour. The first employee was robbed at a theater ticket window. The victim had received no robbery training and could provide no description of the perpetrator and few other details after the holdup.

The same robber held up an employee of another business a short time later. This employee had participated in a mock robbery training program only two weeks prior to the incident. The second victim provided a complete description of the criminal and had all observable details written down before the police arrived.

Based on information gathered from the second robbery victim and evidence secured at the scene, investigators arrested a suspect within two days. Certainly it would seem that the second victim's training had a dramatic impact on her performance during and after the holdup.

Mock robberies coordinated with local law enforcement agencies are scheduled weeks and even months ahead to allow police program coordinators and business managers to schedule personnel who will train as well as those who will participate. …

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