According to the Department of Homeland Security, an active shooter is “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.” These deadly events happen about 18 times per year in the Unites States. Active shootings are distinct from mass shootings, which are defined as incidents where four or more people are shot.
After the shooting at Columbine High School, The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University was created to instruct police officers in active-shooter response. ALERRT at Texas State has been named the national standard in active shooter response by the FBI, and, since 2002, many large metro agencies have adopted the ALERRT standard for their law enforcement training.
The Filling in the Gaps: How ALERRT Training Helps Crisis Response Times for Employees and First Responders webinar presenters included Tammy Reed Manager of Threat Management for Walmart, Brandon Rogers, Senior Manager Threat Management for Walmart and Dr. J. Pete Blair, Ph.D. Executive Director ALERRT Center at Texas State University.
“We’ve seen, since 2000, there’s been an uptick in the number of active shooter events that we’ve seen. And that’s kind of plateaued out, so in the last five years, we've seen an average of 18 attacks per year,” said Dr. Blair.
According to Dr. Blair, more than 85,000 law enforcement officers across the nation have been trained in ALERRT operations and tactics to respond to active shooter situations. This vital training is delivered by veteran law enforcement SWAT specialists with proven experience in active shooter response and police training. In March of 2013, the FBI announced that ALERRT is the national standard through which they are training their agents. Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Iowa, Alabama, Iowa, Louisiana, and South Carolina are among the first states to train and adopt the ALERRT curriculum as their state standard in active shooter response. Other states are moving forward with this as their standard and many large cities (New York City, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and San Antonio) are training all of their front line officers in ALERRT tactics and standards.
Thirteen courses make up the ALERRT catalog, said Dr. Blair, and the courses are delivered year round in communities across the nation as well as at the ALERRT training facility in San Marcos, Texas. Most of these courses are delivered at no cost to the officers or agencies participating, through state and federal training funds.
Walmart has partnered with the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) center at Texas State University to develop an Active Shooter Awareness Campaign that introduces the Avoid, Deny, Defend™ concept (ADD). ADD is designed as an awareness tool that will empower and instill confidence in people of all ages and abilities, helping them understand that “What You Do Matters” in an active shooter event.
Dr. Blair said because shootings are more common, it's important to plan for them. ALERRT trains civilians to have three courses of action.
During an act of violence (e.g. robbery, hostage situation, workplace violence, active shooter):
AVOID starts with your state of mind.
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
- Have an exit plan.
- Move away from the source of the threat as quickly as possible.
- The more distance and barriers between you and the threat, the better.
DENY when getting away is difficult or maybe even impossible.
- Keep distance between you and the source.
- Create barriers to prevent or slow down a threat from getting to you.
- Turn the lights off.
- Remain out of sight and quiet by hiding behind large objects and silence your phone.
DEFEND because you have the right to protect yourself.
- If you cannot Avoid or Deny be prepared to defend yourself.
- Be aggressive and committed to your actions.
- Do not fight fairly.
Brandon Rogers said that he and his team in 2014 recognized the need for an active shooter program at Walmart and its global retail stores. Called the Active Shooter Awareness Campaign, Walmart associates are trained in ALERRT and the ADD strategy, he says, through a video that all associates watch as part of ongoing training. “It was challenging to provide a platform for associates to see the video,” he says, “but we have been successful with showing it through infomercials at our main campus and retail stores. We also have found that table top exercises and brown bag lunches are helpful to disseminate the information. We believe in the power of the program.”