The Richland Police Department recently hosted an active shooter training at Richland R-IV Schools prompting the Daily Guide to wonder about active shooter training and preparation. What are the statistics on shootings? What happens during an active shooter training? Who needs training and why?
According to the FBI website, of the 220 FBI-designated active shooter incidents that occurred in the U.S. between 2000 and 2016, 48 occurred in schools (Pre-K to 12) and institutions of higher education and 8 occurred in houses of worship. In those incidents, 661 people were killed and 825 people were wounded, which adds up the casualties to 1,486.
Richland Police Department hosted an active shooter training at the beginning of January. Rolla Police Department led the training to teach law enforcement officers and school faculty what to do, if and when an active shooter shows up at school.
The Daily Guide asked Pulaski County Sheriff Jimmy Bench about active shooter preparation and training as well. Bench told the Daily Guide that his department has been trained in active shooter scenarios and has been for several years. The training happened when JB King was sheriff and in an active shooter situation, Bench’s officers have orders to enter the building immediately and subdue the shooter.
A few active shooter training programs provide training and plans for active shooter situations. Major Jamie Solis, Assistant Chief of Police, wrote in an email, “There are different types of active shooter philosophies out there pertaining to active shooter response and make no mistake it is a response if a shooter is inside the school. Two systems which you may be aware of are the A.L.I.C.E. and A.L.E.R.R.T. Systems. (Alert- Lockdown-Inform- Counter-Evacuate) (Advanced-Law- Enforcement-Rapid- Response-Training).”
Solis goes on in greater detail about ALICE and ALERRT: “The principles fall under a general guideline of Run, Hide, and Fight. This basically teaches staff and students what their options are in the event of an active shooter incident. Law Enforcement will arrive and immediately seek out and eliminate the threat. In the mean time [sic] those inside the school need to do whatever it takes to survive. We can’t get under our desks as we were taught as a kid growing up, that is just not going to work.”
According to the ALICE Training website, “Alert is your first notification of danger.” Lockdown is when you “barricade the room. Prepare to evacuate or counter if needed.” Inform is when you “communicate the violent intruder’s location and direction in real time.” Counter is when you “create noise, movement, distance and distraction with the intent of reducing the shooter’s ability to shoot accurately. Counter is NOT fighting.” Evacuate is “when safe to do so, remove yourself from the danger zone.”
According to the ALERRT website, ALERRT’s mission is “to provide the best research-based active shooter response training in the nation” and the vision is “training and research that saves lives and protects communities.”
“The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University was created in 2002 as a partnership between Texas State University, the San Marcos, Texas Police Department and the Hays County, Texas Sheriff’s Office to address the need for active shooter response training for first responders. In 2013, ALERRT at Texas State was named the National Standard in Active Shooter Response Training by the FBI,” according to the ALERRT website.
Shootings aren’t just limited to schools and colleges; there have been some in churches that have made the national news in recent years. The Maries County Sheriff’s Office has responded to those events by hosting one of their own. Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman is hosting a church security event February 6.
The event is split into three parts. According to the event Facebook page, “This first seminar is designed to be an informational introduction to church security for church leaders and those interested in the topic. This will be the first of three planned seminars with the second seminar being focused on the planning and implementation of a church security program and third being focused on tactics and training of security team members.”
The Daily Guide reached out to a couple of larger local churches to see what, if any, preparations or planning they have done in case such a situation could occur.
According to Mark Rowden, Pastor at Stonebrooke Church in Waynesville, “We do have a safety/security team that is trained, qualified and following an established security protocol. They are armed and stationed in various positions during events at our building. They aren't overtly identified, but are scheduled each week.”
Rowden referred to an upcoming training event at his church, “I believe we're actually having an all day training event toward the end of January discussing how to deescalate and hopefully contain threats before it becomes an issue inside the auditorium, but also what policies and procedures are in the event of an active shooter. I'm pretty sure there are other churches/organizations attending that event.”
Bishop Willie Curry, Senior Pastor and CEO, at Shekinah Tabernacle Ministries talked to the Daily Guide about the church’s active shooter plan which Curry said was briefed to and reviewed by St. Robert Police Chief Curtis Currenton, “There’s a code word. When someone says that word, everyone drops to the floor. We try to secure the sanctuary.”
Curry advises church leaders to prepare for anything. According to Curry, “Every pastor should plan. If you are a pastor, ask yourself, ‘If it happens, what do we do?’ It’s great to have a plan and share it with local authorities.”
Bench believes the training is important and any church or other organization that would like to speak with Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD) and arrange a training and create a response plan should give them a call. PCSD already has coordinated plans with other churches, such as the Waynesville Methodist Church.