Bullet resistant package passers seem almost mandatory in some settings–how else are a clerk and customer on either side of the bullet resistant barrier going to exchange anything larger than a few slips of paper? But a package passer doesn’t always seem like the best solution. Package passers–especially larger units–can be an expensive addition to a bullet proof system. And package passers large enough to handle common convenience-store items (e.g., two-liter soda bottles, gallons of milk, and cases of soda or beer) also take up an enormous amount of precious counter space. That’s a hard trade-off for most convenience stores, gas stations, and pharmacies.
OPERABLE WINDOWS AND A LITTLE INGENUITY
One solution embraced in many 24-hour convenience stores–where counter space is a prized commodity–is to install operable bullet resistant glass and low counters with built-in stainless steel cash trays. During the day–when the risk of an armed robbery is low–the clerk can unlock the window, slide it aside, and interact with customers naturally. After dark, when the risk of robbery increases, the clerk locks the window closed and customers hold up items against the glass to be scanned and rung up. This arrangement maximizes security and counter space, while minimizing cost.
EXTERIOR PACKAGE PASSERS
Another solution is to remove the passer from the countertop altogether. Jim Richards, vice president of Total Security Solutions, increasingly sees customers interested in installing package passers through exterior walls, mounted adjacent to a secure transaction window. Many new pharmacies, for example, have decided that they only want static bullet proof windows, ones that cannot possibly be opened. Purchases are thus always handled as securely as possible, using package passers and drawers with interlocking mechanisms that make it impossible for the interior and exterior doors to be opened simultaneously. Jim has also found that some national convenience store, fueling stations, and quick-serve restaurant chains have corporate policies that mandate locking down the facility at 9 or 10pm and carrying out all transactions through exterior transaction windows and package passers.
PINCHING PENNIES CAN BE FOOLISH
Of course, since these are more complex installations, and the passers themselves have many precision and moving parts, they can push the cost of an installation up. But Total Security Solutions fabricates many custom cash trays –these simple devices are obviously much less expansive than an operable door with interlocking security hinges, and can work for some applications that may at first appear to demand a package passer (for example, some pharmacies and pain clinics can get by with a slightly deeper cash tray, as opposed to a full-size drawer). But designers and business owners are occasionally tempted to seek out a cheaper solution without fully considering the ramifications. “I had a guy the other day,” Jim notes, “that wanted 6-inch deep cash trays instead of a drawer. As my salesman explained to him, an attacker could slide his pistol right past the glass with a tray that deep; you might as well just cut a six-inch slot along the bottom of the transaction window, or not even bother with bullet proof security at all.”