Sheriff Clarke to Bank Customers: Ignore FBI, Intervene During Bank Robberies

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[img_assist|nid=355370|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=300|height=201]This morning I participated in the Journal Sentinel's live chat with Milwuakee Sheriff David Clarke and I asked him if his advice for people to get a gun and "get in the game" during armed robberies was irresponsible, because it could lead to unnecessary escalation to violence of robberies that would otherwise conclude without injury to anyone.

I specifically asked, "Should someone in line at a bank that is in the midst of a bank robbery, pull a gun on a bank robber?" 



Sheriff Clarke responded:

Jud, it depends. Again that is a decision that the person in that situation has to calculate, not me who is not there at the time .

I responded:

Your answer is the exact opposite of what the FBI advises. The vast majority of bank robberies conclude without injury to anyone. But if a civilian followed your "get in the game" advice, they likely would aggravate a very volatile situation into something far more violent.

Sheriff Clarke responded:

Who from the FBI says that anyway? I tell people what to think about beforehand not how to act when the wolf is at the door.

Sheriff Clarke left before I could answer his question. The person at the FBI that "says that" is Harry Trombitas.  He recently retired, but he used to be the FBI's lead agent on violent crimes.

When the FBI wanted a best-practices advisory for what to do during a bank robbery, they went to Trombitas and here's what Trombitas says to do during a bank robbery: 

 Remain calm and do not make any sudden movements. 

 Do what the robber says. Cooperative customers and employees are rarely harmed during a bank robbery.

Be observant. If possible, get a good look at the robber, noting the race, sex, approximate age, height, build, and clothing. Specifically focus on things that can’t be readily removed, such as ear rings, hair length and style, scars, marks, and tattoos.

 Never chase a robber after he/she leaves. Instead, go to a window and get a description of the vehicle and direction of travel.

Sheriff Clarke's response was troubling and just plain dangerous:   Letting everyone "calculate for themselves" what to do, especially in a volatile situation that could easily escalate into a roomful of people getting shot in a wild west shoot-out is the wrong advice.

Sheriff Clarke's job is to protect the citizens of Milwaukee County from harm.  How can he do that when he is advising people to take actions that will cause themselves and others harm?

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