In light of robberies, Mentor Police meeting with area banks to improve safety
Nov 27, 2012 (The News-Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Mentor Police Department is expanding its outreach to area banks in an effort to shore up their safety.
Each year, the department provides training to bank tellers, but this is the first year it is being offered to managers and security personnel. The Community Services Unit is sponsoring an informational session today on bank robberies in and around the Mentor area.
"Members of the detective bureau and local FBI have made observations regarding the security surrounding several local banks," City Manager Ken Filipiak said in his weekly report to City Council. "These observations will be shared and suggestions will be made on how to upgrade overall security."
The city has experienced several bank robberies within the last couple of years, though all but one -- in July at Dollar Bank -- have been solved. Mentor is home to 17 banks with 26 branches, not including those in grocery stores.
The meeting is about "target hardening," making the physical environment at banks safer, Police Chief Dan Llewellyn said. It could involve changes to lighting and/or vegetation, for example.
"This is just another step in our crime prevention program," he said, noting that his officers have visited some bank properties to determine potential improvements.
After the July heist, Councilman at Large Ray Kirchner complained of poor quality video surveillance images and other concerns, and said he was on the brink of introducing legislation ordering banks to offer a security plan that would put guards or other deterrents inside their banks.
"These excessive number of robberies in our city, I believe, reflect poorly on us for no reason other than the ease at which they are allowed to occur," he said.
He was joined by other council members in calling for improvements, including investing more in the city's own police force.
"I am pleased that all parties are taking a proactive approach to concerns I and others have raised," Kirchner said Tuesday. "This is a good first step in getting a clear understanding about expectations regarding deterrents and security technology."
A banking industry representative said robberies are declining overall and that the federal Bank Protection Act gives banks the ability to develop different security measures for each branch, based on risk specific to a location.
"It's certainly a subject that has come to the forefront," Llewellyn said. "We look at this as a great opportunity to get involved with our businesses."
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