School board, superintendent reject ALICE student training to attack armed intruders

Posted by on December 9, 2012

The Canton (MA) school board and superintendent on Thursday rejected moving forward with training students to attack armed intruders under what a Boston Globe article called a “controversial new security protocol” known as A.L.I.C.E. training.

“We are not ready to go beyond the point of training staff,” the Globe quoted Superintendent Jeffrey Granatino as saying at the Canton School Committee meeting. The article says Granatino stressed that the district is “under no time constraint” to implement the A.L.I.C.E. program as only staff had quietly received the training before questions arose from school board members who apparently were unaware of the program being implemented in their district.

A.L.I.C.E. stands for Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate. The “counter” component of teaching students to throw objects and attack armed intruders has generated concerns from experienced school safety professionals, parents, and others.

In an earlier Globe article, parent Suzanne Hegland, a Canton mother and an assistant dean of students at the New England Conservatory, reportedly told the Globe that telling students to toss staplers, books, and other items at an armed intruder is “absurd.” Hegland blogged on A.L.I.C.E. training in a recent article for the Huffington Post, where she is a contributor.

“I would make the argument that we all need to be comfortable,” school board chairman John Bonnanzio was quoted as saying. He reportedly said school board members and others need to know how the protocol works and that it would be introduced to children in an age-appropriate manner.

The town’s police chief and a school resource officer encouraged the board to adopt the program.

Advocates for A.L.I.C.E. training have recently stepped up efforts to encourage some schools to adopt the program. However, the vast majority of schools across the nation do not provide A.L.I.C.E. training and a number have said they would not even consider doing so.

Ken Trump

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17 thoughts on “School board, superintendent reject ALICE student training to attack armed intruders

  1. Wise move on the part on the School District as I have repeatedly stated the this untested strategy should not be part of any comprehensive school emergency response plan. There are just far too many flaws in this thinking and was obviously created by someone/a company with little or no real school crisis experience. As a longtime school resou rce officer supervisor and national school safety lecturer. The thought of teaching unarmed young students to stage an attack on an armed gunman borders on insanity. I applaud this district and the others for recognizing the major pitfalls of ALICE training.

  2. Chuck Hibbert says:

    Ken,
    Thanks for continuing to be the national voice advocating for logic when it comes to the A.L.I.C.E. training. When I read the news story about this school district at least asking a few questions I was astonished to read the police chief actually indicated that students should fight or flee. I guess there must not be any value to the “L” lockdown in this town’s version of A.L.I.C.E.? Certainly school’s must partner with local law enforcement, but their advice must be tempered with local educators responsibility for the safety of all children. How do you train a classrom of autistic children to fight or flee?

  3. Shawn Slezak says:

    I read your post and Curt’s responses. I have never seen either of you offer an expertise on how to save lives. I read how you attack programs, question tactics, and blame those that are training citizens how to survive. Curt- are you running for office? You really never say anything even though you go on forever. What do you suggest citizens do when a armed person enters a classroom and starts firing a weapon? Simple question. I would also like to know why you are a self proclaimed expert? I study a lot of different tactics, agree with some and disagree with others. I have a lot of conversations with other tactical experts, and even if I disagree with thier tactics, I can understand the “why”. With you two, I have never seen you offer a suggestion, just state that ALiCE is wrong. I have a feeling when WARRIORS enter doors they can look over thier shoulder to see you two.
    I look forward to reading your answers to my questions.

    1. Ken Trump says:

      Thanks for sharing your opinion, Shawn. Disappointed that like most chest-thumping, warrior ALICE advocates, you seem to be unable to present your points without making personal attacks. Perhaps that even adds more reason for us to call for caution if ALICE advocates have to resort to child-like name calling and personal attacks. If you can’t debate something and/or express your opinion professionally without personal attacks at individual, how can one consider you stable enough to make well-thoughout professional advice for acting under a time of pressure?

  4. Gloria Adams says:

    So, I have a question: If you don’t advocate students fighting back if face to face with an active shooter, what do you train students to do if the shooter gets into a classroom where the kids are in the corner or under desks and he is pointing a gun at them? Do you have an alternative to A.L.I.C.E. training for that situation? Hiding under desks was how the kids at Virginia Tech and Columbine died; I’m sure their parents wished they had known of a way to fight back that might have saved their lives. What is your training strategy?

  5. I wonder if the response is still the same after the Sandy Hook tragedy. My daughter is a special education teacher and her students cannot fight, but she sure as heck can.

  6. John Henderson CPP says:

    This whole concept of unarmed people fighting back against a well-armed, active shooter is insane. The shooter is looking for targets and as soon as someone gets up to rush at him, that person will get mowed down just as quickly as they moved. We are talking about young students who will be in an absolute state of shock and panic. It is difficult enough to get adults to perform under such stresses, but getting children to do it is ridiculous. This appears to be an effort to shift responsibility from the state to the victims themselves. In the case of teachers, their responsibility is looking after the children, not trying to take out an armed gunman. They will likely lose. They will also seriously confuse the issue when law enforcement arrives on the scene looking for shooter(s). How do the police react knowing that teachers may be armed as well? Suddenly the police cannot shoot, not knowing who is who. The only answer here is to do a better job keeping the shooters out of the school (access control), and removing the unnecessary automatic shooting weaponry they almost always use, and most importantly getting psychiatric/social help for people before they resort to such drastic activities.

  7. Shawn Slezak says:

    Ken, Im not attacking you, I asked you a question as did Wendy and Gloria, none of which were answered. People are looking for solutions and answers to these senseless killings. You thrusted yourself into the spotlight as a school safety expert, so of course people are going to ask you questions. You for some reason take that as a personal attack and never do provide answers, simply attack those that are proactively providing solutions, which schools are asking for. Like I stated I am always open to new tacti s as I believe tactics always evolve, sadly I have asked for your tactical views as a “school safety expert” giving you and opportunity to share your opinions and you instead attack me and my tactics as a diversion. Calling me a “chest thumping warrior” is an attack on me simply because I was willing and.open to new views which you failed to provide. Are Wendy and Gloria “chest thumping warriors” also? If so I pray t

    1. Ken Trump says:

      “I have a feeling when WARRIORS enter doors they can look over thier shoulder to see you two.”
      Not a personal attack, huh, Shawn? Spare me. I’m sorry you, Crane, and your cronies feel frustrated as it appears you’re all struggling with others being called “school safety expert.” I guess I’d ask what you’re an expert in since you like to jab at others. But I’m increasingly realizing that Crane is trying to create himself a name by positioning himself on the same level of those of us with experience. To do so, he and others have to knock us down because he can’t climb up. It is ALICE advocates who seem to be hiding behind their counter component by disguising it to parents as “enhanced lockdowns” and, when challenged by the media, as not really what it is. People are lookinig for voices of reason, not drama, and applications that are appropriate for preK-12 schools. I’m waiting to hear ALICE advocates answer the implementation questions and implications. Playing the drama and fear question of “what would you do with a gun in your face” seems to be the card ALICE advocates only know how to play. What are you going to tell the mother of a girl who jumped up, threw a pencil, and got shot and killed by someone who otherwise was looking at a possibly negotiable hostage situation? And did you expect the kid to distinguish between the two with a 45-minute workshop as the base of training? If 45-minutes of training suffices for tactical decisions, I guess you and the ALICE advocates then are stating that all of the training police officers receive is not needed beyond the first 45 minutes since a 12 year old can make the same split-second decisions? Sorry, Shawn, but we’re not playing into the drama and in turn giving Crane and company status unearned. Quite frankly, I have trouble taking any tactical advice from someone who left a police department in disgrace along with 11 other officers after a controversial raid and shooting where he was a supervisor. Thanks for reading.

  8. Shawn Slezak says:

    Well its obvious you dont want to answer all the people here and offer your expertise. I have attempted to discuss this issue with you and asked you questions, you attack Crane about something you read about. Then claim Im attacking you? Are you going to answer Gloria and Wendy? Your welcome for reading posts asking you questions as I was interested in your answers that never came. I will not waste my time reading here anymore as Im sure others that are actually interested in saving lives will discuss options with me. I do learn a lot from discussing these issues with others. With teachers, mostly females, who embrace A.L.i.C.E., with law enforcement who have responded to an active shooter who embrace A.L.i.C.E. and with students and the public who praise A.L.i.C.E., because it empowers them to do what they have always known is right, not sit and wait! Negotiate?? Doesn’t work when someone is shooting.our children. Are L.E. Instructed to negotiate when they enter an active shooter.situation? Clearly no. I will not post here as there is nothing for me to gain, and your insults are not worth.the pain of watching you dance around everyone’s questions.

    1. Ken Trump says:

      Good job there, Shawn, on dodging the question about your own preK-12 school safety experience. Thanks for reinforcing my point that the ALICE advocates consistently seem to be able to only ask one bait question, avoid any of the questions on implementation that ALICE neglects, attack people, and when people push back try to claim that you are the victims. You asked Curt if he was running for office. I’d suggest with that type of duck and dodge, spin, and deflection, you and the ALICE advocates would be prime candidates for political office. Sorry you, like your counterparts who sent you this way, can’t answer the implementation questions. Interesting to see that you don’t recognize the difference in a potential hostage situation vs. an active shooter, and you expect a kid to figure that out when a gunman walks in a room. Following the ALICE model, the pencils and ipods would start flying as soon as the person walks in the room, shooting or not. If kids “always know what is right” as you suggest (which in itself reflects no knowledge or application of age and developmental considerations), then I guess you’re suggesting that a 13-year-old with a 45-minute workshop is as skilled as a veteran trained SWAT team and police officer. Seems like quite an insult to the police profession, many of whom (including a number of SWAT officers I know) reject ALICE. Thanks for visiting.

  9. Thomas Sexton says:

    Wow! Wish I had read this line before posting on the last one! I am a parent that wants answers to keep my kids safe. Name calling and chest thumping just ain’t gonna get it folks. Put the stats and facts on the table, no spin, no grandiose speeches, just the facts as Friday would say.

    I will challenge both sides to debate the issues. These are the ground rules.

    1. Bring facts that can be backed up. No “what if’s” No “in my opinion”.

    2. Everybody agrees that the safety of the child comes first.

    3. No media (as both sides are so fond of!) allowed and the discussion stays with those present. No running back to the blogs with a “he said, she said” type of tales.

    4. Every school within a fifty mile area of the debate is allowed to send two parents.

    5. I think everyone would agree that when law enforcement got there the show was over during the last three major incidents. We have some of the best law enforcement response in the world and there is no doubt what the outcome will be when they arrive. Lets keep this debate focused on what we do before law enforcement arrives.

    6. Most importantly, all participants will actually listen to questions that will be submitted by the parents. Each side can give their answer and the opportunity to present again, the dreaded facts of their position.

    Those are the basics that I can think of at this moment. I will be glad to host it here in Middle Tennessee. This would be a great opportunity to show parents, educators, law enforcement and the world that we are only in it for the children and can put personal feelings aside to get the job done.

    1. Ken Trump says:

      The facts are out there. Both sides of the argument have widely expressed their positions. In my case, the position has been well documented on our web site and blog. It is up to school districts and parents to debate what they want and do not want, and to accept that which comes along with such decisions.

  10. John Henderson CPP says:

    What we do before Law Enforcement arrives is to prevent unauthorized people from entering the schools. That and the fact that societal gaps in detecting and treating serious mental illness must be addressed as a root cause. Why are the stats so dramatically different in the U.S. than in other countries? Teaching students and children to fight armed intruders will just result in a bigger mess and is a band aid solution for a symptom of the much bigger issues like how the nation deals with mental illness and the availability of automatic military assault rifles to people that really do not need them.

    Again, if the students and teachers take on the response, law enforcement cannot do anything because in rapidly evolving scenarios, they are trained to shoot the guy holding the gun. It is impractical to expect anyone under highly stressed conditions to start thinking and categorizing who is who, and to try and figure out who the shooter is versus who is the student or teacher fighting back. I agree with Ken that the information is already out there. I hope it never happens, but if one day an ALICE trained school is attacked, the people selling this training, and the people that bought it may have to answer to some families as to why their particular child was shot multiple times trying to attack an intruder with a machine gun. Lastly, the show always ends when the attacker knows Law Enforcement is there, they always take the easy way out.

  11. James G says:

    I am a current ALICE instructor. I’m a fifteen year Army vet with ten years in instruction, 12 years security in healthcare, retail investigations and compliance and am very knowledgable in many things but I would never consider myself to be an expert on anything. At what point do u consider yourself an expert? There is not a day that goes by where I have to ask a question or look something up. i have to wonder whether or not any of the opponents to ALICE training ever go through the training to build their opinion. The opponents seem to be fixated on one portion of a very well designed course. I am not paid for teaching ALICE and get nothing for doing so except the hope that it may save lives. The class is taught Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Evacuate, Counter. It is stressed that the counter portion is only done as a last resort.
    I find it disturbing that “security experts” would even comment as an expert on a course they have never attended. I think it is absolutely wrong to post opinions as fact. If you attend a course and decide the program is terrible, I can accept that. At least you can comment about your opinion, not someone else’s.

  12. Bill Ihrke says:

    Our school administration went through the ALICE training a couple months ago, and then we just had an ALICE presentation last Friday and are becoming an ALICE response school. Alert and Lockdown are the first part of ALICE and are a traditional lockdown. Inform let’s everyone in the situation know real time information allowing all to make a decision of staying put or evacuating (E). The C stands for counter, and you only do that if someone enters your room.
    *By the way – NO SCHOOL SHOOTER HAS EVER MADE A DEMAND – there is no negotiating – they are there to kill, and if a shooter comes in to a building, ALICE increases your change for surviving. This was the best training I have ever attended.

    Bill Ihrke
    Minnesota HS Principal

    1. Ken Trump says:

      Thanks for sharing your opinion, Bill.

      You indicated that “if a shooter comes into a building, ALICE increases your change for surviving.” Do you have any specific data and examples of where an ALICE-trained school has applied the Counter technique in an actual active shooter incident that supports the proposition ALICE increases your chance for surviving?

      Also, did you and/or your superintendent obtain a written opinion from your legal counsel and your insurance carrier before formally adopting ALICE as your policy and/or procedure?

      Additional information on my opinion and questions about programs such as ALICE, run-hide-fight and related programs is online at http://www.schoolsecurity.org/trends/alice-training/

      Best of luck!

      Ken

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