Ready to respond: How ALERRT trains law enforcement agencies to handle active shooter incidents

MAXWELL, Texas – In the aftermath of the Robb Elementary School shooting, several active investigations continue to take place. The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center released a detailed timeline of the events on May 24.

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

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

“You’re not going to get any faster than that unless you’re lucky and there just happens to be a police officer standing right there when it starts. Of course, the event doesn’t end just because that first officer arrives on scene. That’s the number we’re talking about, from 9-1-1 call to first officer on scene is about three minutes.. Then the officer has to figure out where the attacker is. Go find the attacker and stop the killing. So that can take longer than that,” said Blair.

ALERRT was founded in 2002 as a partnership between the Hays County Sheriff’s Office and the San Marcos Police Department. The center grew 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 across the country.

Blair said, the FBI has recognized ALERRT as the national standard, due their research methods.

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

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ALERRT has an active shooter research division that works with the FBI to produce national active shooter data. Some of the data published reveals an upward trend in active shooter incidents around 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 location that receives the kid to teach the entire course. So it’s got all the equipment you need to teach our particular courses. We can either send our instructors out to the location and they help teach and they teach the course themselves. Or we also have a train the trainer program that’s designed to have that agency develop their own trainers that can then provide that training,” Blair said.

Although each situation is not the same, Blair said it’s better to have officers trained.

“You have to train them constantly. You have to equip them with the equipment that they need if they’re going to perform on the day when the attack happens. It’s not like just being a police officer get you experienced and all of a sudden you’re this tactical genius who can handle these complex situations. So because you’re not developing that practice and that skill on the job every day, you have to train to develop that skill. So on those rare days that you do need it, you have that skill set in place,” said Blair.

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