Lessons learned

Published 10:19 pm Monday, August 3, 2009

Despite what it looked like, it really wasn’t a bank robbery.

The Chilton County Sheriff’s Office staged a mock robbery of Peoples Southern Bank on Sunday afternoon in downtown Clanton.

Sheriff Kevin Davis said the drill provided valuable experience to both law enforcement officers and bank employees.

“We hope and pray something like this never happens,” said Davis. “But we know criminals train for their occupation, and we want to be better trained, equipped and prepared than any criminal element we face.”

The sheriff’s department worked to make the bank robbery seem as well as possible – too real to the dozens of people who stopped by wanting to know what was going on.

After all, it’s not every day SWAT teams and helicopters descend upon normally calm Chilton County.

“It wasn’t the real thing, we knew that, but it was intense to start,” said Pat Baker, security officer at Peoples Southern. “This is something I wanted to do for a long time. I felt it was pretty beneficial for us.”

Baker said the downtown branch hasn’t been robbed in her 20 years at Peoples Southern.

She said the drill served as a wakeup call to her and other employees.

Officers from the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office, Clanton Police Department, Maplesville Police Department, Elmore County Sheriff’s Office and Tuscaloosa Sheriff’s Office, along with several bank employees and their families, participated in the exercise.

“We are thankful for the agencies involved,” said Davis. “There will be valuable lessons learned today. We don’t expect everything to be perfect. This will give us the knowledge of what we do well and what we can improve on.”

Davis said his office is required to do such training to receive Department of Homeland Security funding and other grants.