Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Give that man a hand

Ever watched some high school basketball player throw up an ill-advised shot, while the coach mouths the word "No!", only to have the shot fall, and the coach shout "Nice shot!"?

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. Wish I would have been Glad I wasn't in line behind that suspect, eyeballing a fire extinguisher.


Anonymous said...

It still amazes me that people try to rob banks in Lincoln. What's the percentage that aren't apprehended? Something less than 10%?

Steve said...

I'm sure Tom can tell us the figures for Lincoln (and probably nationwide), but from what little research I've done, it appears robbing banks is relatively easy, though not always as lucrative as one might think. I saw widely ranging figures, but most put bank robbery as having one of the highest success rates among various crimes. That is, as long as you don't boast about it on YouTube.

As for intevention in criminal activities, I too applaud those with the courage to step up and do what they can to stop a crime in progress (or to bear witness and provide information afterward). I think if that were the rule rather than exception, we'd have a lot less attempted crime in the first place. That goes for all types of crimes, not just robberies. You see someone shoplifting, report it. You see someone vandalize a mailbox or someone's car, the least you can do is get a description.

Of course, you want to use some caution and common sense, but often times all it takes is one person to step up, and others will pitch in to help.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, it's almost de rigueur for law enforcement to state that they recommend compliance with a robber, because if they say otherwise, it could open the governing authority to a lawsuit if a future non-compliance goes wrong.

Oddly enough, another violent felony, forcible rape, used to garner the same advice (comply), but after enough public officials uttered that bad advice and were ejected at their next re-election attempt, that compliance recommendation ceased.

Anonymous said...

Good thing the robber complied with the 'gun free zone' and did not bring a firearm. Of course, he knew there wouldn't be any guns in the 'gun free zone' used to stop him.

Anonymous said...

How does Nebraska's bank robbery rate compare with that of South Dakota?

Anonymous said...

The one lesson we should have learned from 09/11/2001 is the example set by the passengers on Flight 93. Since hijackers now know that passengers might fight back how many hijackings have we had? Have we learned our lesson yet?

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

True, Gunnut, but is that due to fear in the hijacker, or due to stronger security?

I realize quite a bit of it is "security theater", but there may still be some effect.

I still believe in the positive effect of a good deterrent, though. :)

Steve said...

I didn't want to be the one to bring up the GFZ argument, but it is something to think about. The reason (presumably) banks (and other retail establishments) train their employees to comply with robbers is to avoid the often greater costs that "might" occur should someone be injured or killed by resistiing or confronting the robber(s). Unfortunately, that results in greater costs to society anyway because we all end up paying for the losses through higher prices and such. Also unfortunately, compliance doesn't gurarantee anyone's safety.

I doubt the 9/11 attack, and the actions of the passengers on one of the planes that were hijacked, has anything to do with not having had any hijackings since then. However, it is still a lesson to be learned; that compliance is not necessarily the best alternative (look what happened with the other planes), and that even though losses may occur, resisting can certainly reduce them (crashing in cornfield rather than the White House).

I know Tom talks frequently about a succesful intervention by someone with a concealed handgun permit, and the fact that we haven't had one in Lincoln to this point. One might want to consider though, that there have been many opportunities had concealed handguns been legally allowed in a particular establishment. It remains to be seen whether allowing concealed carry in more places would have an effect on crime. Until we eliminate more gun free zones, we'll never know. There have certainly been successful thwartings of criminal activity by concealed carry permit holders in various places. I can't help but feel there would be more if the situation were different.

As it is now, I work for LPS and I can't legally carry in the school or anywhere on school property. Therefore, unless I want to park in the street and walk (sometimes considerable distances), I have to leave my gun(s) at home. That means that when I stop at the quick shop for gas or pop, or the grocery store, or anywhere else I might stop on the way to or from my job, I am unarmed. Then, even if I come home and get my gun to run some errands, I have to disarm to go into the bank, the hospital, the highschool football game, any government building, any restaurant that sells a lot of liquour (whether I drink or not), and so many other places that it is almost pointless to have a permit. If law-abiding citizens could carry anywhere they have a legal right to be, there would be many more opportunities where they might intervene and stop a criminal act.

Anonymous said...

I have to disarm to go into the bank, the hospital, the highschool football game, any government building, any restaurant that sells a lot of liquor (whether I drink or not), and so many other places that it is almost pointless to have a permit"

It's true, many of the places where one can't carry are where these crimes happen. A lot of businesses reflexively posted their premises as a GFZ on memos from their legal dept. I've pretty much stopped patronizing any local biz that prohibits carry, instead going to one of their competitors, or if that isn't handy, to the internet for mail order. For example, I have not set foot in a Kwik Shop, nor even bought gas at one and paid at the pump, since they were posted as GFZs shortly after Nebraska allowed CHPs back in 2007.

I rarely have to enter any gub'mint building, and DMV now offers most things I need (tag renwewals and such) online. I don't do bars, sporting events, or political rallies. I vote absentee, precisely because I'd have to disarm to legally enter a polling place.

Sometimes you can't avoid entering a GFZ (a bank, for instance), but when one must, bring your OC spray and your legal-length (less than 3.5") concealed knife - where legally allowed of course. Always by the book. I'm not armed to help stop a crime. I'd have become an LEO (God bless 'em) if fighting all crime were my goal. I'm armed solely to stop a violent crime against me. Street robbery when walking away from the ATM, road rage, carjacking when in scruddier parts of Omaha and KCMO, and what have you.

Hopefully, we'll chip away at current off-limits restrictions until the list is so limited that it resembles that of Utah, Wyoming, or even Vermont.

Anonymous said...

Other than Omaha IIRC open carry is allowed in all of Nebraska. I prefer open carry over concealed carry however doing so draws a lot of attention from paranoid morons.
Gun Nut1760

Fireballs said...

One must live in a pretty scary world to feel the need to conceal carry just to buy a can of Skoal at the local Kwik Shop. I wonder what the chain policy is for Dunkin' Donuts?

Anonymous said...

"One must live in a pretty scary world to feel the need to conceal carry...at the local Kwik Shop"

No, they just need to pay attention to the news.