In light of recent mass shooting attacks across the country, the focus on responding to active shooter situations has gained further interest.
Much of that interest is focused on ALERRT – Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training – at Texas State in San Marcos.
“We always have a waiting list,” explained Executive Director Dr. Peter Blair.
This week, the federal government granted nearly $5.4 million in new funding to the program – money which will go directly towards training.
“[We work with] anywhere from very small departments that maybe only have a couple police officers up to NYPD. We've provided training for them,” Blair said.
About 95 percent of their training is done remotely, with the rest taking place at a training center nearby.
The program was first established in 2002, but it began to receive widespread attention after the Newtown attacks.
“Certainly when Sandy Hook Elementary School happened, and all those kids that were killed - that was a major outcry that happened at that point in time. The federal government started to look at what programs they had that they could fund up more to provide more training to law enforcement officers around the country. Fortunately, at that point in time, we had been funded by the Bureau of Justice System for several years at that point, so there was already a federally established program. At that point in time, the FBI vetted our program, sent several of their officers through our training, and decided that they’re going to adopt our program and declare us as the national standard,” said Dr. Blair.
Much of their efforts focus on law enforcement integration and making sure all units are working together.
“When you look at Vegas, that many people who were hurt or injured, it's going to take a lot of careful effort to get those people the help that they need. Any event we see - there's always multiple phases,” said Dr. Blair.
The grant money, which was secured in part by efforts led by Rep. John Carter and Sen. John Cornyn, will help them work with more departments across the country.
“We find with these things that it's not so much an equipment program - we have the basic equipment that we need in most cases to respond to these events, though more is always better. But it's the idea of the human capital, the human people. Teaching them what to do because they need to make the decisions about how to utilize that equipment in order to save lives,” explained Dr. Blair.
Currently, their waiting list includes 100 departments. About 95 percent of their teaching is done remotely, though they do have their own training course.
ALERRT also has an active research program that works with Texas State University, where Dr. Blair is a tenured professor.