Generally, I do not encourage citizens to physically intervene in crimes in progress. The standard advice is, "be a good witness." Nonetheless, there are many cases every year where a citizen or group of citizens steps into the breach and interrupt a crime in progress. Every time that happens I feel just a little like that coach: grimacing and grinning at the same time.
Such was the case on Saturday, when a customer in line at the Union Bank branch at 1300 N. 48th Street realized that the guy in the teller line was attempting to pull a robbery. The customer armed himself with a fire extinguisher opined to the robber that he worked for his money, and the fight was on. This was no little shoving match, but a genuine donnybrook. The news coverage didn't really do it justice. Fortunately, our citizen prevailed, took the suspect to the floor, and with the help of another onlooker detained him until officers arrived and the arrest was made.
Intervening carries many risks. The suspect could have a gun, or a long blade up his sleeve. The intervention could go bad and people could be hurt rather than the suspect merely running away. It could trigger a hostage-taking. I don't think any of this was running through the mind of this citizen, watching the ill-conceived crime go down. Rather, he was thinking what he said out loud, "I work hard for my money!" While it may not always be the soundest tactical move, and I do not recommend it, I admire the courage of all those who step forward, and thank them for their willingness to do so. They are frequently honored at LPD's awards ceremonies, and give a new meaning to the phrase "community policing."
By the way: the last robbery to occur at this particular branch was in November, 1996. One of the tellers involved was a 20 year-old University of Nebraska junior in the bank's student program, Thomas J. Casady, who still works for Union Bank & Trust.