American Savings Bank hires special duty police officers after robberies

Two high-profile armed robberies within a month has forced American Savings Bank to make an unprecedented move: hiring special duty police officers to guard the branches on Oahu.

The bank said for the safety of its customers, as well as the workers, having an armed police officer at the bank is necessary, at least for now.

KHON2 spotted a uniformed police officer standing guard inside the bank on Kapiolani Blvd., and a police car parked outside the Moiliili branch with its blue light on Monday.

Bank officials said the extra security started Saturday, one day after the Pearlridge Center branch was robbed by two men. On May 13, the Salt Lake branch was also robbed by two men.

In both cases, which police believe are connected, the suspects were armed and wore hoodies and masks. An all-out manhunt followed and in both cases, the suspects got away.

“We regularly review our security protocols that’s in the best interest of our customers and our team members, and the decision was made as the situation required to make changes as needed,” said Jayson Harper, vice president of communications at American Savings Bank.

Harper said he doesn’t believe that the bank is specifically being targeted.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “We have nothing that’s been shared with us that they are targeting American Savings Bank and again, this is an ongoing investigation. We won’t be commenting on that from HPD’s standpoint.”

Customers said they like the idea of having the extra security as a deterrent.

“Of course. You see a cop, you just walk the other way,” said customer Matt Ko. “If I was the guy, I wouldn’t want to try and risk anything with the cop right in front of you.”

“You’ve got to be very careful and these people nowadays, they’re crazy. They do all kinds of crazy things nowadays,” said customer Charles Ho. When asked if he feels safer having a police officer around, Ho responded, “Oh yeah, sure. Why not?”

But the security comes with a cost. HPD special duty officers charge $36 an hour.

American Savings Bank has 39 branches on Oahu and HPD said the bank plans to have the officers on duty for at least the next couple of weeks.

But the bank did not want to say what the total cost is for the extra security or if all Oahu branches will have police officers on duty.

KHON2 contacted other banks here on Oahu to see if they’re considering doing the same thing.

For security reasons, they did not want to comment.

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