New anti-crime legislation passed by Congress last week calls for the installation of speed bumps in front of all national banks in order to foil bank robberies.
"When bank robbers try to flee the scene they will trip over the speed bumps in front of the doors and then the authorities can just scoop them up and take them to jail," according to Wilma Blowfish, senior Senator from Washington state and a co-sponsor of the crime bill.
Some critics have denounced the legislation, calling the speed bump idea simplistic and ineffective. They argue that felons can defeat the system by simply slowing down as they leave the bank. Blowfish disagrees.
"Federal law enforcement statistics show that robbers are almost always in a hurry to get away," the Senator said. "Forty three percent of bank robbers leave at a dead run, and thirty eight percent speed walk as fast as they can without actually running. Less than one robber in five just walks out of a bank after a robbery."
"Of course, it really doesn't matter, because we have built provisions into the law to deal with just such an eventuality," she added. "The second phase of the bill calls for motion-sensitive sirens to be installed at all bank entrances. These will be triggered automatically as the felons leave. That will startle them so they will break into a run and stumble across the speed bumps."
Critics also complained that the speed bumps could be easily defeated if the criminals simply scouted them out in advance and then avoided them as they left the bank. Not so, says Blowfish
"Once again, statistics show that less than half of bank robbers reconnoiter a location before pulling a job. Most of them are impulse robbers," she explained. "Even so, we factored into the bill those that do case a job ahead of time. First of all, we have required the speed bumps to be camouflaged, and the pattern has to be changed at random intervals. Secondly, the height has to be different on each speed bump so that you never know exactly how high to lift your feet. And finally, we have required that the bumps be moved at least once every ten days to keep the criminals guessing. As you can see," the Senator said, "for once we really have thought of everything."
Initially some bank managers opposed the law because they felt that the speed bumps would inconvenience their customers, but the lawmakers anticipated that as well. There are provisions for VIP entrances without the speed bumps for use by the banks' more important customers, and signs and arrows at the other exits directing regular customers around the speed bumps.
"This is a wonderfully inexpensive and low-tech way of taking a bite out of crime," Senator Blowfish said, "and it also demonstrates that there are non-violent ways of dealing with our society's problems. I can only hope that others in the legislative and law enforcement communities will learn from this example and come up with similar innovative ideas that can be implemented in other areas."