LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - In the past year and a half there have been 29 bank robberies in Little Rock alone. Eleven of those occurred in the last five months.
"Nobody knows that something bad is going to happen until something bad happens," said Mike Thomas, a bank teller at Simmons First Bank in Hillcrest.
Thomas said he trusts the procedure he was trained to follow, but it's the "wildcards" that worry him.
"Sometimes you have people who come in with a means to an end. It's all that they want to do or this may be the last thing that they do."
That was the case in 2006 when 25-year-old Jim Garison was killed in a robbery at Metropolitan National Bank in West Little Rock just two days before Christmas. He was shot in the back while working at the drive-through window. Since then, bank tellers are trained on how to handle a robbery situation every year.
Vice-President and Security Officer David Boast said a security guard brings on an extra height of fear.
In a small neighborhood like Hillcrest, he said a guard adds a dangerous appeal to an otherwise safe area and may prompt a suspect to be even more hostile out of intimidation.
"What does the armed guard do? He becomes a target if you will for someone, be it the bad guy or himself," said Boast. "That's why we say comply with the demands to get them in and out quickly."
"They feel that if we have security, the robbers may feel like okay I have to go in here armed or have hostages or feel more scared to rob the place," said Thomas, "because they still have fear going in."
Gun fire in Little Rock bank robberies is rare, which is why Boast said security guards are not necessary. However, the appearance of weapons is not rare.
One bank teller, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been the victim of a robbery 3 times. She said she would like to have more security, but understands that it may not be feasible right now.
"Would I like to have a security guard or bullet proof glass, yes I would. I do know those cost more money," she said.
However, money isn't the main concern for bank owners, it's the atmosphere. For example, a bullet proof glass could hurt interaction with the customer, said Boast.
Thomas said he sees both sides. He would feel more comfortable having a security guard, or at least having bullet proof glass, but it might cause fear for customers.
"Not having a barrier is basically working with your customers better," said Thomas. "You want your customers to feel comfortable in a bank.
But not all customers agree.
"I honestly wouldn't feel less of a connection with the bank teller especially in light of the recent robberies, I feel like it almost might be a necessary measure to take," says Olivia Holmes, a resident of Hillcrest.
Boast said they don't have any plans to implement security guards for the future; they find it unnecessary right now.
However, over the years, banks around Little Rock have collectively heightened security in several other ways, primarily in technological improvements and additions inside and outside of the building. Those security details, of course, will remain secure. Each year they also train their new and old employees on how to handle robbery situations.