SOP for banks, guards, and guns.
June 8, 2007 7:48 AM   Subscribe

Is it standard practice for security guards to have their sidearms drawn when escorting currency deliveries to banks?

Yesterday, in midtown Manhattan, as I was walking along 6th Ave, I walked past a bank. There was an armored car parked on the corner, and two men in security guard uniforms were delivering a handcart full of bundled coins.

As I was walking past them, I saw that one of them, the man next to me, had his handgun drawn(!), pointing at the ground with his index finger extended along the side of the trigger guard. He walked that way all the way into the bank, as the other man pushed the cart, chatting and joking as they went.

Is this a normal occurrence? Seeing a guy nonchalantly walking along 6th Ave next to me with a gun drawn was kind of surreal.
posted by Gamblor to Law & Government (15 answers total)
I see this sometimes in the city, although I know that the Dunbar guys generally just wear thier weapon exposed, but not drawn. I've seen the guys who collect the money from the Metrocard machines with drawn weapons also.

I guess its good that this occurance strikes you as odd - it wasn't that long ago that there were National Guard members with automatic weapons all over downtown, Port Authority, etc. THAT seemed surreal to me, anyway.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:54 AM on June 8, 2007

From my observations, it is standard procedure to have a weapon drawn when both armored car guards are vulnerable. If one of the guards is inside the locked vehicle, generally the sidearms will be holstered. If both are outside, or if they are working together to move something out of the bay, then it's not at all uncommon for one to have a drawn sidearm. You usually don't see this because usually one guy stays in the truck and the other moves the valuables back and forth.
posted by jcwagner at 8:02 AM on June 8, 2007

I witnessed the same thing on 25th and Park Ave South Tuesday evening. I guess it must be standard practice, nonetheless, it did give me a case of the willies!
posted by digiFramph at 8:18 AM on June 8, 2007

FWIW, i've only seen this in NYC.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:29 AM on June 8, 2007

When I was visiting NYC earlier this week, I was a bit surprised to still see some police officers and National Guardsmen with submachine guns at the WTC PATH station, the financial district, Penn Station, etc. Even in DC you rarely see that.
posted by armage at 8:36 AM on June 8, 2007

I've seen it in LA too.

Well, at least I think they were armored guards. Hard to tell. Everyone in LA usually walks around with guns drawn. At least that's what people in San Francisco keep telling me.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:37 AM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've seen this in San Francisco, but it was 7-8 years ago.

It struck me as very odd at the time as well.
posted by toxic at 8:44 AM on June 8, 2007

I've seen it in Boston but it doesn't even compare to what I saw in Ireland and Spain. In both countries it can be a real commando operation. I was walking down a street in Galway a few years ago and a jeep pulled up and a bunch of soldiers (may have been cops) in berets jumped out with machine guns drawn. I thought some serious shit was going down but, no, just a bank drop. Same thing in Madrid. Legacy of the IRA and ETA, no doubt. Where there's a serious threat of armed robbery the money escorts will be armed and ready to shoot.
posted by otio at 8:51 AM on June 8, 2007

I've seen this in NYC. What surprised me more was travelling in France a few weeks ago, where I saw a woman in her mid 20s, t-shirt and jeans, etc., fill an ATM, alone, with no protection/weapon of any sort. Granted, it was morning in a rich town in Provence on a market day, but still I would have thought that the "couple of dude with guns drawn" method was relatively foolproof.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:57 AM on June 8, 2007

I have seen this on occasion.
a coupe years ago in los angeles, I stopped at an ATM in the middle of the night. suddenly I heard a loud cracking noise.

I looked around, saw a large armored truck and two security guards coming out of it with a handtruck and lots of bags. one of them had a shotgun pointed towards the sky.

so hey, I doubt there is one procedure.
posted by krautland at 9:01 AM on June 8, 2007

In DC if you go around capitol hill you can normally see Capitol Hill Police (one of our many overlapping police jurisdictions) walking around with automatics, but I have never seen the bank drop with the gun drawn.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:05 AM on June 8, 2007

I used to park in a lot that was next to the armored-car entrance to the federal reserve bank in my city. Occasionally I would see the armored cars come or go. There were big gates, and inside them were giant metal things that rotated up out of the driveway to prevent a vehicle from passing unless they were retracted. Then there was a little holding area in the driveway, and finally the garage-door type things into the building (and maybe more, that was as far as I could see). Getting the truck in was a long-ish process of opening one safeguard, passing it, closing it, and then opening the next. The whole process was supervised by guards with large guns (semi-automatic looking things, though I'm definitely no expert).

I know, federal reserve is on a different level than some consumer bank out on the street, but I was still always amazed by the firepower. It's such a quiet neighborhood, with a park adjacent and not much traffic. The chirping birds, yuppie dog-walkers, and guys with semiautomatic weapons made for a strange dissonance first thing in the morning.
posted by vytae at 9:47 AM on June 8, 2007

In the Twin Cities (Minnesota), I have seen many Armored Car guards moving around, but I have NEVER seen anyone besides a Police Officer making a felony stop on a car draw a pistol. I would remember if I had.

Comparing private guards drawing their sidearms with paramilitary/police holding their rifles/shotguns is not an equivalent comparison: Usually when the situation is deemed to require the presence of rifles, procedure dictates that they be carried at-the-ready at all times because it can be cumbersome unslinging them if something jumps off.

I think this may be one of those procedures that varies by market area in the US. In Minnesota, the threat may be considered lower than in NYC or LA, so procedures are tailored accordingly.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 9:50 AM on June 8, 2007

I worked for one of those companies in Greater Boston in the above-mentioned capacity and only unholstered my sidearm on a route once, when I was alerted to a very specific threat at a very specific location. Not sure what I would have done had the situation gone bad, but as I experienced it, the whole gun-carrying thing is more of a deterrent than anything else. To my knowledge, the procedures where I worked didn't vary between locations (I worked for a big national armored car outfit with presence in all the big metro areas).

Of course, there are a fair amount of wanna-be police officer/ex-military yahoos in that line of work who feel very important carrying a gun, and that particular guy could have been nothing more than that.
posted by diggerroo at 11:05 AM on June 8, 2007

If its the company I'm thinking of diggerroo, I looked at them when I was jobhunting. The pay for the couriers is laughably bad for the risk they put you in.
posted by dr_dank at 11:10 AM on June 8, 2007

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