School officials get shooting response training

February 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has sparked an intense debate on school safety in this country. One security company in Texas has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people wanting to get trained on how to respond to a shooter on campus. The training, called "ALICE," stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. ABC7 News got exclusive access to a recent training session at San Jose City College.

"Lock down" means an intruder is on campus.

To deal with an active shooter, the people behind the door try to barricade themselves using what they can find, a table, a rope, a wastebasket -- anything to keep the intruder from coming in.

"People will survive, people will act appropriately if we give them guidance and if we give them permission to do so and that's what this is all about," Response Options spokesperson Kerry Harris said.

Response Options, based in Texas, is training people on how to go beyond the duck-and-cover mode, teaching them to go as far as confronting the gunman.

People attending the course will learn three fundamental things: run, hide and fight.

Sean Thompson is a teacher at Benicia High School. He convinced his school district to let him take the two-day course. He will now train other teachers.

"When you become a parent, things change, perspectives change," Thompson said. "I don't look at my room as just students anymore. I look at them as sons and daughters of other people and I feel it's my responsibility and the responsibility of educators to be as prepared as possible to protect that life."

"Ultimately the goal of this program is to minimize, if not completely eliminate, any type of injuries or fatalities," Matthew Haywood, who is a school police officer in Merced County, said. "That's why I am here, that's what I'm trying to express to my staff."

The course ends with an intruder-on-campus scenario using an air gun and rubber pellets. In this case, the people inside the room are ready to counter or confront the second gunman. For the scenario, tennis balls are used instead of books, laptops or chairs. But in most cases, running may be the only option.

"We know what the consequence is of responding passively, and far too often it's death," Harris said.

San Jose City College and Evergreen Community College have now trained their nine officers. Students and teachers will soon undergo the same active shooter training.

"I have to know how to lead and how to protect my students but it's a combination of both, the students need to be prepared as well, and trained," San Jose/Evergreen Community College District Police Chief Ray Aguirre said.

It's a reality of today's world -- getting schools to prepare in order to increase their chances of surviving the unthinkable.