Banks stay prepared for robberies - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Banks stay prepared for robberies

Surveillance video taken at the Bank of America on Summer Avenue last week shows the terrifying images of a gun-wielding robber ordering every one to the floor.

Former teller, now a First Tennessee Vice President, Debbie Lee knows that feeling of fear better than most.

"I've been in about 10 bank robberies since I've been with the bank for 20 years," Lee said.

One in particular several years ago sticks out in her mind.

"When I stepped out into the hall there was a man standing there with a gun pointed at me telling me to get in the lobby on the floor with the rest of the employees, which I did face down."

Lee says bank employees know robberies are just part of the job.

Investigators with the Safe Streets Task Force, who's job it is to prevent and solve bank robberies say, despite their efforts, tracking down suspects can be tough.

"Most bank robberies that occur, we're in the position of catching up after it's happened," said FBI Supervisory Special Agent George Bolds.

And, Bolds said, it's happening more often.  FBI numbers show 42 bank robberies in Memphis so far this year, 11 in just the last three weeks.

"We don't have a good reason for why this is happening, this increased number right now," Bolds said.

Which is why veteran bank employee Debbie Lee says the training she and her co-workers go through to keep themselves and their customers safe is critical.

"After being in about 10 of them, I've been just fine and have never seen anyone get hurt," Lee said.

Action News Five spoke with officials from a half dozen Mid-South banks on Wednesday.  Each say their employees go through extensive robbery preparedness training to keep themselves and their customers safe.

None of the bank officials would give details of their training program for security reasons.   

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