Law Enforcement Officers Train For Active Shooter Scenarios At High School
It’s the training no law enforcement officer wants to ever have to utilize.
It’s also the training every law enforcement officer is glad they have.
Instructors for the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) center were in Glenwood last week providing active shooter training to more than a dozen area law enforcement officers at Glenwood Community High School.
The training scenario at Glenwood High School was intense: a mass shooting event with casualties was all part of the scene. There was simulated gunfire and a shooter taken out by body armor-clad law enforcement.
The ALERRT center, a San Marcos, Tex. federally funded program, offers courses of instruction designed to prepare first responders to isolate, distract, and neutralize an active shooter. The course reflects the evolving strategy that has first responding officers confronting active shooters. The training works includes drills on shooting and and principles of team movement, room entry techniques, approach and breaching the crisis site, secondary responder tactics and post-engagement priorities.
The trainings are provided at no cost to law enforcement agencies all over the country.
“They come here and get trained for a week for free,” said Luke Fleener, the lead instructor for the Glenwood training. “The ALERRT Center takes care of the equipment and the cost for the trainers to come and put the class on. In today’s world, it’s vitally important that our first responders are trained on how to deal with not only school incidents but also business attacks and theaters. Its invaluable training for them.”
It’s also a training that is increasingly requested. In a typical week, ALERRT receives 1,200 requests for the active shooter training Fleener and many others across the United States provide. In the days following the shooting deaths of 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Tex. on May 24, the center received 3,000 requests.
“They are getting inundated with training requests,” Fleener said. “What we’re seeing is administrators and chiefs and sheriffs across the country are realizing, we probably need to focus more attention to this topic so we are better prepared, God forbid, if something would happen.”
Taking part in the 16-hour course at Glenwood Community High School were a handful of Mills County Sherriff’s deputies and Glenwood Police officers as well as law enforcement officers from several southwest Iowa counties and two officers from Peoria, Ill. Fleener, who is also the sheriff of Webster County, has been a law enforcement officer for 33 years. He’s been an ALERRT active shooter trainer since 2008.
“I enjoy going out and doing this because it’s vital training,” Fleener said. “It’s great for us as instructors to see their level of abilities increase and they have them go back to their departments and continue training.”
Perhaps the most crucial and hands-on drill the officers take part in are the “force-on- force training” that has officers firing “simu-unition” rounds loaded with a soap-like substance that leaves an imprint on clothing. The drill teaches accuracy of fire and simulates “bad guys shooting back at law enforcement,” Fleener said.
“That’s not always easy training for us to attend,” Fleener said. “It’s the closest thing we can get to real life. The more we can train in that environment the better our skills become.”
While the course is heavy on the dynamic scenarios, it includes approximately two hours of classroom work from a 200-page manual discussing tactics and scenarios.
Officer Richard Rix of the Glenwood Police Department took part in last week’s training. He’s been on the force four and a half years, and he’s taken part in a handful of similar trainings, but nothing has been quite so intense.
“The force-on-force stuff has been helpful,” he said. “It makes it more real. You take a shot to the arm, and it leaves a pretty good welt. It gets your alertness and attention to detail and everybody’s movements. Its puts you at a higher awareness.”
Rix’s forearm showed a bluish dime sized bruise from a shot from one of the sim-unition rounds. But he said the experience was worth the mild discomfort.
“It’s been a great training,” he said. “It’s really helped teach us different tactics how to make solo or two-man entries into schools, places of business and places like that and try to get to an active threat. And even if it’s something that’s not active, just getting through and getting to any victims or hostages.”
Any law enforcement agency can request the ALERRT training. The center also offers a “Integrated Response” program where officers, firefighters and paramedics are trained in the curriculum simultaneously. The program is also “train the trainer” aligned, in that officers in attendance will then be able to take the information back to their departments and do departmental trainings to improve their response.
“That’s our goal, to get out the training to as many people as we can,” Fleener said. “In today’s world, we have to be prepared for the worst.”