The Ohio State University Department of Public Safety has taken steps including increasing patrols and responding to more calls to address concerns expressed by local banks and OSU students following two armed robberies that occurred at Huntington Bank on West 11th Avenue in September.
“We’ve increased our officer presence not only at that bank, but all the other banks on campus,” said University Police Deputy Chief Richard Morman. “Just having officers periodically stop by, talk to staff. As you can imagine, they’re probably pretty uneasy.”
The robberies took place less than two weeks apart, Sept. 14 and Sept. 26, at the Huntington Bank branch located at 235 W. 11th Ave., across from Canfield Hall on South Campus.
In the Sept. 14 incident, the suspect was armed with a knife, and in the second, the suspect had a gun. Both incidents occurred before 10 a.m. and the suspects in each case were described similarly — an approximately 6-foot-tall black man in his mid-30s.
Investigations for both crimes are still under way, Morman said.
“This is a big priority right now (and) we’re dedicating a lot of our resources to this investigation,” Morman said.
Meanwhile, OSU police officers are also making an effort to ease the concerns local bank branches might have after hearing about the two reported crimes.
“(We) are really redeploying a lot of our resources and paying extra attention to the banks,” Morman said.
The University Police has been working with Huntington Bank in particular to examine possible security measures. The branch has already added a security officer to its 11th Avenue location, Morman said.
Other safety strategies, however, cannot be made public at this time, according to a Huntington Bank statement, emailed to The Lantern by Maureen Brown, director of Huntington Bank public relations.
“It is Huntington’s policy not to discuss the details of its security tactics,” the statement read. “But we can say that every measure has been taken to make certain security at the branch is strong.”
Not every local bank, though, sees the robberies at Huntington as cause for concern.
Pamela Belcher, branch assistant for U.S. Bank at the Ohio Union, said that branch is not alarmed by the recent crimes because of its location in the Union.
“Unless someone has literally staked it out, we probably would be the last one they’d even attempt to hit,” she said.
The bank has also not taken any extra security measures since receiving news of the robberies.
“Of course we’re always aware of our surroundings, but at this point … we’re not doing anything differently than what we do on a daily or weekly basis,” Belcher said.
University Police officers have looked to ease concerns of individuals in the campus area as well.
“We have had a little bit of an increase in suspicious persons calls around close to banks,” Morman said. “We have responded to them, too, just because some people are probably a little nervous.”
Aron Lime, a second-year in human nutrition, said it’s reasonable for students to be apprehensive.
“It’s definitely a concern because we live here,” Lime said. “I don’t know what all they can do to change it because it’s kind of just the nature of the area, and so no matter what they’re going to do, it might just be a waste of money.”
Other students have expressed a different response toward the crimes.
Akela Jennings, a fifth-year in public affairs, said she isn’t worried for her personal safety.
“I think (the suspects) are just extremely desperate for money and they’re not really trying to harm anyone,” she said.
Other students who live in the area said they’ve gotten used to crime.
“The Huntington Bank that got robbed twice in the last two months is literally a minute from my dorm, and that didn’t really change anything,” said Mark Blum, a first-year in mathematics. “Crime is going to be committed wherever … I wouldn’t want to say I’m desensitized, but it’s become more of a (normalcy) and sort of an accepted risk. If, god forbid, something were to happen, it wouldn’t be, ‘Oh my gosh, how is this happening?’”
Brooke Sayre contributed to this story.