Digital and cybersecurity continue to capture headlines. That said, recent events have made clear that physical security—bank windows and doors, secure passers, and traditional “bandit barriers”—still play an important role in the modern retail bank.
More than Bank Windows and Doors:
The best approach to bank safety and bank security is a holistic one, grounded in People, Policy, and Technology:
- People: Who are you keeping safe? How do you enforce security in the workplace? How do employee needs differ? (Note: protecting people increasingly means considering health precautions and psychological comfort, as well as traditional physical threats.)
- Policy: What do we need to do (or change) in order to increase safety and security?
- Technology: How can we change our building and operations to make safety and security the “default” options?
According to Jim Richards, CEO of Total Security Solutions, “What this comes back to is having a really deep understanding of your real threats and risks. You are the expert in your business and community—but you might need to dig in a little, talking to stakeholders at every level, to understand all the nooks and crannies. Once you take a comprehensive look at your challenges, we can help you come up with a customized system for addressing them.”
Comprehensive Security for Banks
A comprehensive bank security plan should focus on both infrastructure and technology to keep your assets safe. Proper policies and management of personnel will help, but physical safety barriers remain an important deterrent.
According to the American Bankers Association, one factor that determines the overall security of a financial institution is the number of “psychological barricades” between the door and the money. Such barriers might include having to be buzzed into the bank, being greeted by a receptionist or armed guard, or finding the teller stations outfitted with ballistic transaction windows.
Security Transaction Windows
Teller or transaction windows are an ideal security enhancement for most branches because they can be readily integrated into new or existing construction and, in contrast to hiring security personnel, impose no added ongoing costs. But they can be a tough sell for bank managers. Retail of all sorts–including retail banking–relies on minimizing the psychological barriers between staff and visitors and making every transaction and interaction as pleasant and frictionless as possible.
Modern bank teller windows ship as pre-built, single-piece drop-in units. They weigh about 100 pounds and can easily be installed by most on-staff maintenance crews. Bear in mind that different buildings will have different needs: depending on the specific layout of entryways and high-traffic areas, the front-door safety glass may need to be replaced with ballistic acrylic, and some walls may need fiberglass reinforcement.
In his decades of experience designing and installing bullet-resistant security systems in financial institutions, Jim Richards has found that “the biggest thing is the overall design of the system. That system needs to be aesthetically pleasing and to blend in, so customers don’t even notice it when they walk in. For us, that means a free-standing system–no thick support posts or steel frames–and excellent voice communication.”
In addition to the transaction windows, you have to consider what kind of deal tray to use with it for optimal security and functionality.
Standard and Custom Bulletproof Deal Trays
Many manufacturers make deal trays that can withstand shots from a 9mm, .44 Magnum, or .357 Magnum, but these standard trays leave room for bullets to potentially ricochet off the hardened steel, which is less than ideal in many environments.
While standard trays do offer some protection, a deal tray with a bullet trap offers a safer solution. These trays stop bullets differently by allowing the bullet to penetrate the tray itself, where it is then caught and retained – eliminating the potential for a bullet to ricochet off.
The seemingly seamless deal tray is either bolted to the existing counter or recessed into it. These deal trays are fabricated from sheets of 18-gauge bullet-resistant stainless steel, with welded joints that have been ground smooth. The entire unit is then treated with a brushed satin finish for durability and aesthetic appeal.
TSS is one of the few manufacturers offering these prefabricated recessed deal trays with an integrated bullet trap. One key difference is that, while other manufacturers choose to pack their deal trays with fiberglass, Total Security Solution’s bullet-trapping deal tray uses an interior steel plate with welded joints to catch bullets.
TSS supplied stainless steel deal trays to Jim Kirby of Custom Metal Products for a police training facility.
“Total Security Solutions went above and beyond,” Kirby said, “They delivered custom trays, even though the original specifications were for a standard product. They met the quoted price and the timeline… Our client was extremely happy with the finished product.”
What was most remarkable to Kirby was his own staff’s admiration for these trays: “I heard at least three times from one of our in-house engineers how beautiful they were.” Working this hard, stainless steel calls for care and precision craftsmanship. The grain of the steel needs to be matched and blended at every welded joint. If the welding gun is too hot, the steal will be discolored. A lesser craftsman might build a serviceable tray, but it’ll certainly be ugly. “I’ve been working with this engineer for six years, we’ve seen a lot of metal, it’s the first time he’s ever described a product this way.”
Improve Your Bank Security Plan
Total Security Solutions encourages every organization, financial and otherwise, to engage in a comprehensive safety and security optimization process.
“We’re always really glad to see organizations thinking deeply and in new ways about safety and security,” explains TSS President and CEO Jim Richards.
Jim has decades of experience creating physical security solutions for banks. He’s found that “people naturally focus on what most easily comes to mind. That’s going to be those dramatic incidents that got a lot of news coverage: A mass shooting. A riot. A ransomware attack. But good security and safety improvements always mitigate multiple risks at the same time. As our name implies, we develop total security solutions. These are attractive, integrated solutions. Yes, we focus on the physical means to protect people—those bank windows and doors and bandit barriers. But those measures have a ripple effect, increasing peace of mind.”
Ultimately, optimized security systems make for a safer work environment.