How ALERRT trains law enforcement to handle active shooter incidents

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MAXWELL, TX – Following the Robb Elementary School shooting, several active investigations are ongoing. The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center released a detailed timeline of events on May 24.

The timeline was determined using internal school surveillance, video footage from a nearby funeral home, body-worn cameras, radio logs, statements from officers, and interviews.

Pete Blair is the executive director of ALERRT. He said the typical police response time is estimated at three minutes.

“You won’t go any faster than that, unless you’re lucky and there happens to be a policeman standing there when it starts. Of course, the event doesn’t end just because that first officer arrives on the scene. This is the number we’re talking about, from the 9-1-1 call to the first officer on the scene, it takes about three minutes. Next, the officer must determine where the assailant is. Go find the attacker and stop killing. So it may take longer than that,” Blair said.

ALERRT was founded in 2002 as a partnership between the Hays County Sheriff’s Office and the San Marcos Police Department. The center was born out of the change in response tactics, which was prompted by the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.

Since the center’s inception, more than 200,000 first responders have been trained in every state in the country.

Blair said the FBI has recognized ALERRT as the national standard, based on its research methods.

“We actually have a team of researchers who not only look at events to find out what the patterns and trends in events are, but also specific techniques and tactics and how these work and compare which ones work better than others. . . And then we publish that in peer-reviewed journals,” Blair said.

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ALERRT has an active shooter research division that works with the FBI to produce national data on active shooters. Some of the published data shows an upward trend in active shooter incidents across the country.

The research and data collected helps ALERRT understand which tactics and techniques are useful.

ALERRT provides training in medical emergencies, team improvement techniques, decision making and response time. Specialized kits are used to help implement the course material.

“Each kit is designed to allow the place hosting the child to teach the whole lesson, so they have all the equipment you need to teach our one-to-one lessons. We can either send our instructors to place and they help teach and they teach the course themselves. Or we also have a train-the-trainer program designed for this agency to develop their own trainers who can then provide that training,” Blair said.

While not every situation is the same, Blair said it’s best to have trained officers.

“You have to constantly train them. You need to equip them with the gear they need if they are to perform well on the day the attack occurs. It’s not like just being a police officer gets you experience and all of a sudden you’re that tactical genius who can handle these complex situations. So, because you don’t develop this practice and skill on the job every day, you have to train to develop this skill. So on the rare days when you need it, you have that skill in place,” Blair said.

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