On Jan. 30, 2015, teachers and other staff members of South Eugene High School participated in ALICE training, a new program designed to prepare individuals on how to handle the threat of an active shooter. The components of the training include Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. Instead of using traditional methods of lockdown procedure where people in the school building are essentially “sitting ducks,” ALICE encourages potential victims to counter the attack by distracting the intruder and reducing their ability to shoot accurately. However, this new program has caused controversy over the best way to deal with the danger of a school shooting. Many believe that the conventional “lockdown and wait” method is preferable to fighting back.
The ALICE training program was created by Greg Crane, a law enforcement officer in the Dallas area, whose wife, Lisa, was an elementary school principal. After the tragic Columbine High School shooting in 1999, Crane asked her about the school protocol when an active shooter was present. Lisa explained that she would put out a Code Red signal over the PA, and teachers were to “get everyone in a classroom, lock the door, turn off the lights, sit in the corner, and wait for the police to arrive.” For the first time, the abnormally high numbers of deaths and casualties as a result of school shootings made perfect sense to Crane. He came to realize that the targets were too easy. Once the bullets start flying, students and teachers are left to figure it out for themselves. Thus, he began to create a plan with a fellow officer based on strategies that got them through violent situations. These ideas were run by Lisa and improved by incorporating her suggestions. Soon, the plan became a program under the name of ALICE Training Institute. Today, it continues to be one of leading research institutions on how to better handle the threat of an active shooter.
Like South Eugene High School, many other schools and public agencies have started to implement ALICE training methods into their lockdown procedure. Being a relatively recent innovation, however, it is still in the experimental phase and results have yet to surface. Many people became skeptical of ALICE when an Alabama middle school principal instructed students to arm themselves with canned food in a simulation attack. Though it was confirmed that ALICE had not conducted any training on the behalf of the district, the Alabama principal’s tactics were an unmistakable variation of the program’s countering methods. Despite such incidents, ALICE training has grown to become a “security fad” across the nation. Popularity of the program can be found in rave reviews from many satisfied school boards.
“We have a plan in the school to help children survive in a violent event. We feel that ALICE is the best program because it enhances their ability to use their senses to find the ability to survive,” Deputy Brad Osswald of the Hamilton Heights school district in Indiana said in a public education forum.
Though many remain hopeful that it will reduce casualties and deaths, ALICE training has yet to prove itself as an effective alternative to traditional protocols in response to the threat of an active shooter. Unfortunately, there is no way to know until these methods are applied in a real-life attack situation.