DENVILLE, NJ-- Law enforcement officers and school administrators from Denville and neighboring towns attended a two day training course in school and workplace safety to prepare for the unlikely but real possibility of an “active shooter” situation.
The course, hosted by national ALICE instructor James Jennings, teaches why the current “lock the door and hide in the corner of the room” is not an effective solution because there are ways to break into classrooms. Should something like that occur, it would leave the people in the room with no way out and unprepared for the next step of getting to safety.
“Options; that one word pretty much describes it all,” Jennings said. “We want school administrators to know that they have more than one option to protect themselves and their students.”
The ALICE program, which stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate”, was invented by a police officer from Dallas that recognized an error in the system following the Columbine High School shooting. He wanted to improve the safety measures at the school where his wife was the principal, but the training course’s popularity took off and other schools were looking to implement the same tactics.
Following a day and a half of talking about these tactics, Jennings created real life scenarios of what to do in an “active shooter” situation. All of the participants were given masks and told to go into one of three classrooms at Valleyview Middle School. One person played the role of the shooter, using an airsoft gun as their weapon.
In the first scenario, the only tactic allowed was the “lock the door and hide in the corner” method, which is the most common tactic taught in schools. Participants quickly learned why this is ineffective as the “shooter” burst into the room and shot airsoft pellets into the crowd that was huddled in the corner. Everyone would’ve been hit.
For the next scenario, a barricade method could be used, followed by a barricade or escape method in the next one. These scenarios gave participants options for how they wanted to barricade the door to keep the shooter out or choose an avenue to escape if one was available. Both scenarios ended with no one getting hit and everyone either outside to safety or waiting for police to arrive behind a barricaded door.
Another scenario was run to demonstrate if a shooter opened fired in a crowded hallway, which ended in just one person getting hit as the shooter was tackled to the ground.
Following the exercises, Jennings wanted to reiterate that limiting teachers or workplace supervisors to one option could be the difference between life and death. Instead, everyone should be aware of all the options available and choose the one that will best get people to safety.
Jennings saidt it would be impossible to go through every situation, as the possibilities are limitless, but it’s about being preparing and making smart choices that could save lives.