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ARLINGTON, Va – As more credit unions debate how to counter robbery, some might learn from a Bank of America pilot project that it claims has cut robberies in its greater Los Angeles area branches and outlets by 69%. The bank has 281 “banking centers,” which range from full service branches to smaller outlets in the greater Los Angeles area. Between June of 2001 and January 2002, those branches were robbed 77 times, the bank has reported. The bank’s pilot project tailored upgrades to staff training, equipment and technology designed to make the branches harder robbery targets. Training and staff improvements included adding highly trained armed security officers and more staff training. Building improvements included bullet resistant glass, mantraps with weapons detection capability, bullet resistant bandit barriers, and devices containing smoke, tear gas and electronic tracking equipment. Bank of America would not say how much the upgrades cost and maintained that there was no cost benefit analysis performed as part of the change. “Our priority was the safety of our staff and customers,” said Ken Preston, spokesman for the bank. “The incidence of robbery was rising, especially in Los Angeles, and we believed we had to take action.” Credit Union Times will provide an in-depth look at robbery prevention in its Oct. 1 issue.

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