(Re-posted from the Regional Education Service Agencies’ October 2014 Newsletter. Download full newsletter here)

A recent study of active shooter events (2000-2013) conducted by the U. S. Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Investigation has provided some alarming information.  According to the FBI study, of the 160 incidents that occurred during this period:

  • An average of 11.4 incidents occurred annually.
  • An average of 6.4 incidents occurred in the first 7 years studied, and an average of 16.4 occurred in the last 7 years.
  • 70% of the incidents occurred in either a commerce/ business or educational environment.
  • Shootings occurred in 40 of 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • 60% of the incidents ended before police arrived.

In early September, RESA 5 Public Safety Training joined efforts with the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center Infrastructure Protection Programs, Parkersburg Police Department and West Virginia University at Parkersburg to host an instructor develop program designed to enhance education for violent intruder/active shooter response.  Known by the acronym ALICE (Alert – Lockdown – Inform – Counter – Evacuate) this training is billed as the first active shooter response program in the United States.  Developed by a law enforcement SWAT officer to protect his wife, an elementary school principal, ALICE training provides simple options designed to enhance survivability.  The ALICE program has received national attention within the public and private sectors, and aligns with Vice President Biden’s 2013 release of the “Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans.”

 “In my forty-plus years of public safety service, training and education, the ALICE program is one of the best and simplest concepts offered to the general public for dealing with violent intruder/active shooter threats.”

The two-day instructor training course was designed to teach proactive survival strategies in violent intruder/ active shooter situations.  Attendees were comprised of law enforcement command staff, trainers, school resource officers and deputies from Parkersburg, Vienna, WVU-P, Kanawha, Jackson, Ritchie, Pleasants, Tyler and Washington (OH) counties.  Also participating were several members from West Virginia and federal government agencies.  The RESA 5-sponsored course was the second training trip to West Virginia for ALICE National Program Instructor Joe Hendry (a Lieutenant with Kent State University Police Department & Law Enforcement Subject Matter Expert for the Ohio Attorney General on Active Threats). “I met Lt. Hendry while attending ALICE training at the University of Charleston in May,” stated Bill Minear, Director of Infrastructure Protection Programs with the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center.  “In my forty-plus years of public safety service, training and education, the ALICE program is one of the best and simplest concepts offered to the   general public for dealing with violent intruder/active shooter threats.”

As a volunteer Fusion Liaison Officer with the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center, Rick Gobble, RESA 5 Public Safety Training Director, works closely with Minear and other Fusion Center personnel to support the growing security and resiliency movement within West Virginia’s homeland security program.  “Bill has been a RESA Instructor for over 30 years, and he wasted no time reaching out to me about co-sponsoring this training.  We both recognized the importance and value it could bring to the education and public safety systems in West Virginia”, stated Gobble.  ALICE training has similar approaches to training the layperson, just like Stop-Drop-Roll and CPR programs possess.”

Chief Joe Martin, Parkersburg Police Department, took the time to attend the training along with several members of his agency.  “As we learned in the program, it does not replace existing alert and lockdown policies; it enhances them by providing additional options.  Prior violent intruder/active shooter events have shown, on multiple occasions, the threat occurs and ends before law enforcement can engage the threat, he stated.  ALICE training enhances survivability.”  This point was emphasized during Day 2 of the training.  Interactive scenarios provided students with the opportunity to sense the anxieties and stressors created during violent intruder/active shooter threats.  In a tightly controlled and monitored environment, Instructor Hendry conducted a series of threat-based situations.  After each scenario the class held a debriefing session and discussed their experiences and perspectives.  In certain scenarios, students were able to react and employ the ALICE techniques learned during the prior day’s training.

“This training was a real collaborative effort between several agencies and organizations.  WVU-P provided the classroom and scenario venues, which were huge, Gobble said.  To conduct this level of instructor training requires a great deal of cooperation between a host of people and organizations.”  Minear echoed his colleague’s sentiments by adding, “WVU-P, Chief Martin, and RESA 5 Executive Director Joe Oliverio took extra steps to support Rick and me in bringing the ALICE program to this region.  The more people we can train in the ALICE concept, the quicker we can enhance survivability options for men, women and children, in a number of active threat environments.”

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