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Bank robberies prompt changes

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Police are looking for ways to reduce the number of bank robberies after an unusually high number were reported last year.

Greenwood police are considering going back to parking police cars outside banks as a way to make potential robbers think an officer could be inside. Franklin police are considering new training sessions with bank staff to help improve reporting and response times.

There were six bank robberies in Greenwood last year, three in Franklin and one in Trafalgar. Three banks were robbed in 2011 countywide, and the spike has caused the departments to take another look at ways to reduce the number of robberies, police said.

Greenwood police may once again park police cars at banks, using the empty vehicles to make potential robbers think an officer might be inside.

“Some are empty, but not all of them are because it’s part of an overall strategy. There are times when officers will check in on the employees,” said Sgt. Doug Roller with Greenwood police.

The tactic is effective even with an empty car because someone approaching a building can’t be sure whether an officer is there without going inside, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said.

Officers on patrol occasionally go inside a bank or will stop in a parking lot while watching traffic or doing paperwork, Greenwood Assistant Chief Matt Fillenwarth said.

Both Roller and Fillenwarth said they believe the program was successful in preventing robberies.

“There are other years when we had that strategy employed with the decoy cars, our robbery numbers were down when Indianapolis was seeing them on the north side of County Line Road,” Roller said.

Neither Roller or Fillenwarth could recall a year with as many bank robberies as 2012. One or two bank robberies typically occur each year in the city, they said.

Franklin police also responded to a higher number of bank robberies last year, with two at the same bank in October. Police want to try something new by implementing training programs that would directly involve bank employees.

“I think there needs to be a change in the policy and the training, and our goal is to get with the bank officials and actually train together,” Franklin Police Chief Tim O’Sullivan said.

The new training would focus on ways to improve reporting and response times when robberies occur and increase the chances of catching a suspect quickly, he said.

The Franklin department has never parked empty cars at banks and doesn’t have enough police vehicles to start that practice, O’Sullivan added.

The sheriff’s office would like to start parking empty police cars at schools, Cox said, but it also doesn’t have enough vehicles since high-mileage cars are traded in to help with the cost of new vehicles.

Greenwood police stopped the program in 2011 when the department sold some of its police cars. The city has replaced those vehicles since then and again has available cars, which otherwise would be parked at the station and used for reserve officers or backups if a cruiser breaks down.

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