PHOTO ZABRINA YANNELLA

School switches to ALICE active shooter safety procedures

March 26, 2018

Special education teacher Kathleen Riley wanted to be a teacher since she was 7 years old, but when she was told that the school would be taking active shooter training, she realized that this isn’t how she expected her first year to go.

“It made me uncomfortable,” Riley said. “We were warned about what we were going to be doing and how long it was going to take a few weeks–maybe even a month–before the training. A few days before the training, I wasn’t sleeping well. I was having bad dreams and I was very, very worried about what was going to happen.”

Beginning in February, superintendent Karl Heidrich informed the people of the school community that six teachers would attend an ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) Training Program.

During the training, teachers and administrators learned how to do anything to distract a shooter in different ways that vary from making noises to adding distance, all to prevent the intruder with intended violence in a school shooting.

“If you think about the lockdown procedure that you used to do, and a lot of other schools used to do that was one solution. But, in an ever-evolving time in our day and age, it gives more suggestion. There are more opportunities to do something,” Lieutenant Keith Flores of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department and ALICE trainer said.

“The old fashioned lockdown procedures, we’re not big fans of here at the Sheriff’s office. We want to empower our staff members, our teachers and our citizens to do something other than just one option in lockdown so we kind of want to get away from that,” Flores said.

With the ALICE, staff and students will barricade doors to make forced entries more difficult for the shooter.

A common misconception is that the C in the acronym, for “counter,” means to use physical force, but physical force is always a last resort.

Heidrich has high hopes that this more widely-known program will protect the staff and students  more readily.

“The history is we have used lockdown shelter in place for a long time, and we started looking at schools around us in Livingston, Jackson and Washtenaw Counties to see what their safety procedures are,” superintendent Karl Heidrich said.

“If an active shooter where to harm anyone, we could have first responders come from any of those three counties, so we wanted more options that allow us to be proactive if an active shooter event were to occur.”

Although ALICE protocol, further advanced than our current system, has already stepped foot into Stockbridge schools, staff has started a committee to address specific issues in the building from room to room.

“It is going to take a long time to switch over, but we need to keep progressing to make sure student and staff safety stays a top priority,” Heidrich said.

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