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Oregon FIs work for heavier robbery sentences
BEAVERTON, Ore. (2/9/09)--Oregon credit unions and banks are working together through the Financial Institution Security Taskforce (FIST) to help reduce robberies and other crimes committed against financial institutions, to ensure the safety of staff and members/customers, and to obtain stiffer sentences for offenders. FIST is a cooperative venture supported by the state’s credit unions and banks, and their respective trade associations--the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) and the Oregon Bankers Association. FIST works with representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies whenever appropriate. When the public hears about a bank or credit union robbery, it is usually about the act itself. Rarely do they see the consequence for such a rash event, or the emotional toll that the bank or credit union customers and employees must pay, said CUAO. Four repeat offenders for credit union and bank robberies in the Portland metropolitan area recently received substantial sentences of 12 years or more through the federal court system for crimes committed in 2007 and 2008, CUAO said in a press release. When setting a sentence, the court is required to consider the impact on victims. And while most consider robbery a financial crime, the human toll is great, the association added. “Robbing a bank or a credit union has very real consequences,” said Ken Austin, FIST co-chair. “We were very pleased with the sentences that these four repeat offenders received. The public rarely sees the end result of a robbery. And we hope that this will act as a deterrent to others.” FIST co-chair Sandra Hess, loss prevention officer at Unitus Community CU, Portland, explained why credit unions and banks collaborate in this area. “There is definitely power in numbers when it comes to fighting crime,” Hess said. “Working together to help provide rewards for information on robberies, as well as working to prevent and lessen the impact of robberies for our state’s banks and credit unions is important to all of us.”
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