Historically speaking, the risk of robberies and other forms of theft is greatly increased during times of chaos. Because they are diligently working to meet an increased demand for financial services and member care – all with leaner staff, fewer operating hours, and restrictions on in-person appointments – it’s easy to see how credit union leaders may be pulled away from prudent mitigation of robbery risks at this time. But, it’s never been more important.
In many ways, now is the perfect time to arm staff with the tools they need to protect the cooperative. Here are a few things credit union leaders may want to consider integrating into the workday over the next few weeks:
Contact Area Police Departments: Reach out to the robbery divisions of your local law enforcement agencies to see about any observed or anticipated robbery, burglary or theft trends in your area. Ask them to share as many details as possible with you about perpetrators or methods they expect nearby criminals to deploy. Share what you learn with the employees who will be staffing your branch locations, and adjust or increase security measures accordingly.
Touch Base with the Alarm Company: Similar to your check-in with law enforcement, ask your security provider to share any information they have about particular threats either in your community or among similar-sized credit unions in other areas of the country. Use their knowledge to better tailor your prevention strategies to the most relevant risks. Ask them about testing your alarms or if they have any other recommendations around actions for businesses dealing with various forms of pandemic disruption. It may also be a good idea to make sure your alarm company has the current contact information for your authorized personnel, given the staffing changes you may be undergoing.
Host a Training Webinar: Using a secure, private virtual conferencing platform, provide a high-level version of your credit union’s robbery policies and procedures training. Consider hosting it from the branch if local restrictions on business operations and quarantining allow. This will enable you to make the training as personalized to the branch as possible, and will also help staff better visualize how to respond during a robbery in progress.
Run a Virtual Mock Robbery: Practice your robbery procedures in a Zoom, Webex or Microsoft Teams environment. Assign participants different “roles,” such as criminal, teller, robbery kit contents distributor and first-responding police officer. Have each employee describe what he or she is doing. Use the virtual tool to create digital assignment cards, physical description forms, an incident report and any other documentation that is a part of your credit union’s unique robbery response procedures.
Check in on Your Robbery Kit: If local restrictions allow, visit each of your branch locations to visually inspect your robbery kit. Is it stocked with everything it should be? Are the appropriate and most relevant contact details included and up to date? Use branch downtime to get them up to snuff.
Even in the most normal of times, a robbery has long-lasting impact on the victimized credit union that often goes far beyond financial losses. While it will take an extra bit of work during a time when staff may already feel overloaded, the peace of mind that comes with training and preparation will be well worth the effort.