The state Senate Banks Committee has passed legislation introduced by Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-C-IP, Rome) to increase the penalties for bank robbery, making the crime a class C felony.
Griffo represents central St. Lawrence County, including Massena and Potsdam.
The legislation, Senate bill 3559, was introduced in response to an increase in the number of bank robberies. The bill can be viewed at open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S3559-2013.
“I am deeply concerned with the increasing number of incidents in which individuals come into banks and threaten violence against bank tellers whether in notes or verbal comments, and claim to be armed in the commission of a robbery. In my communications with law enforcement officials and leaders of the banking community, it has come to my attention that would-be criminals perceive that robbing a bank is not a crime that would be punished as severely as other types of crime,” Griffo said.
According to the most recent FBI statistics, the majority of bank robberies are committed with a demand note rather than a weapon.
“My goal in developing this legislation is to increase the safety of employees and consumers in our local banks, but also to send a message to potential criminals that robbing a bank is not some sort of victimless crime, but one that we take very seriously and will punish very strongly,” Griffo said.
“Not only does this crime place employees and customers at risk, it imposes increased costs on all consumers. By increasing the penalties for bank robbery, this legislation seeks to help address this problem. The bill would establish meaningful penalties to serve as an effective deterrent and as an appropriate level of punishment,” he continued.
The bill passed the senate in last year’s legislative session, according to Griffo.
Now that it has passed the Senate Banks Committee it will go to the Senate Codes Committee for consideration.
The bill has a companion version in the state assembly, A.2485, which can be viewed at open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/A2485-2013. The assembly version was sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D- Glen Cove).