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November 15, 2013
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Keith Bettinger Musings of a Retired Cop
with Keith Bettinger

How to cater a bank robbery

The detectives concluded their investigation, the bank was able to open the next day — and I didn’t have to buy lunch

It was a beautiful day and one of my first days in a new area of patrol. Suddenly my radio came to life, and I was dispatched to a robbery in progress at a bank in the patrol sector adjacent to mine. 

When I arrived, as is the case of most robberies, the robber was gone — and so was a bunch of money.

I did everything I was supposed to do. 

I checked to see if anyone was injured. No one was. 

I asked for a description, put out a notification to the other patrol cars and requested a supervisor respond as well as detectives. 

I asked if the armed robber wore gloves and what he might have touched. When I was told he did not wear gloves — as well as where he stood and what he touched — I advised the employees to stay away from there. 

I asked the manager to lock the door and then separated the employees. I handed them sheets of paper and advised them to write down exactly what they saw and what they did.

What happened next really impressed me.

Well-Oiled Corporate Machinery
A supervisor from the bank’s corporate office responded with an armed, uniformed security officer. The supervisor called in three tellers from different branches to do an audit of the cash drawers and safe. 

Their job was to “zero out” the victim teller’s loss amounts. The uniformed security officer took a position outside the entrance to the bank and in a very polite but professional manner informed approaching customers the bank was temporarily closed but would reopen the following day, and directed them to nearby branches. 

The bank was getting crowded with the extra employees, detectives, my patrol sergeant, and the bank’s corporate personnel. 

The corporate manager had been through this before and knew exactly what to do to make this investigation run smoothly — he broke out his credit card.

He selected one of the tellers who had been brought in for the audit and sent them out to a local delicatessen to purchase cold cuts, cheeses, and loaves of bread for sandwiches. He ordered up potato salad and macaroni salad, as well as soft drinks and potato chips. He even remembered that we needed forks, knives, spoons and cups.

Don’t Forget the Napkins!
When the teller returned, everyone grabbed something to eat and drink. When done eating, everyone was full and there was still food left over. The pressure was off, and the victims and everyone else relaxed.

When the day was done, the detectives concluded their crime scene investigation. The bank was able to open the next day, which made the corporate offices happy. 

And of course, I didn’t have to buy lunch that day.

I handled other bank robberies during my career, but never another like that one. 

Boy, they sure knew how to cater a robbery.


About the author

Keith Bettinger is a retired Suffolk County (N.Y.) Police Officer. He’s been writing for law enforcement publications for more than 25 years and has received 18 awards for his articles, stories, poems, and books. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Relations with a major in Clinical Counseling. During his career he received the department’s Bravery Medal, Silver Shield Award, Meritorious Police Service Award, Special Service Award, Professionalization Award, Department Recognition Award, five Headquarters commendations and six Precinct commendations. He also was a field training officer and an instructor on Post Shooting Trauma and Critical Incidents.

Keith has written two books, Fighting Crime With “Some” Day and Lenny, and End of Watch. He has also contributed stories to the following anthologies: Cop Tales 2000, Charity, True Blue, To Protect and Serve, and Dad’s Bow Tie. He also shares with Jack Miller, the screenplay Master Cheat. Keith lives in Las Vegas with his wife Lynn.

Contact Keith Bettinger





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