‘It’s a scary prospect to be raising children today’ seems to be a common conscious thought and phrase among parents and teachers these days. The simpler times of security and a sense of safety in small town schools have been overshadowed by the lurking thoughts of shadowy adolescents in black mask with high-powered weapons in their hands and hatred in their hearts.
Whatever it is that drives young men to such actions may be open for debate, but the reality of their actions leaves no room for the understood need for a strong response. A MHS teacher and reserve police officer with Mannford Police Department, Justin Porter, recently took such action to better prepare local law enforcement if such a tragedy were to unfold locally.
ALERRT, Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training is the Federal Government’s solution to such tragedies. Its purpose is in minimizing the collateral damage of such tragedies and was devised after the Columbine massacre. Protocol for such attacks has always been to wait on the SWAT team to arrive, as was the case in Columbine. It was 4.5 hours before the tactical team arrived and by then, the damage had been done.
Through this training, the first officer on scene is the SWAT team. The officer immediately begins to assess and neutralize the threat as opposed to waiting on others to arrive.
The grant based program did require 30 plus officers in training to receive the assistance. This meant smaller police forces such as Mannford were excluded from participating unless the police department could afford to send its officers to the larger cities that were training.
That all changed six months ago and Porter said they “jumped on the chance” to participate. This, he explained, would help compliment the schools’ proactive attitude of having off-duty police officers on campus during the day and at after school functions by providing them with the skills necessary to deal within such an attack.The concept of officers on campuses became a prominent idea after the Sandy Hook assault, Porter said.
Park Rangers, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers, TCC Police and officers from smaller police forces in the state all participated in the training. This training encompasses classroom training where topics such as safely clearing a building, maneuvering around corners and the use of common tools such as hammers and chisels which can be used as entry tools into a locked building. These tools and methods are practiced and then the training moves into its second phase.
There were six instructors during the training in Mannford that included two “bad guys” and a safety officer with each of the three making up two teams. Officers are then prompted to infiltrate the premises and encounter the situation that ensues. Participants were issued blue Glocks that shoot a paint dart to mark what is being hit. Officers shot blue, assailants shot red.
In addition to the active training of an assault scenario, officers were taught how to interact with the schools during such an assault and how to with them on their action plans.
Porter organized this 16 hour training course and hopes to host it twice per year so that officers from other jurisdictions will have the opportunity to gain such valuable knowledge that can be beneficial to their communities.
The instructors very much liked the layout of the lower elementary for training and the school administration is very open to allowing the training to continue, Porter said.
“We want our guys to be ready and this is a perishable skill. So we want the training to continue and are planning on another training session in July or August right before school starts and then another session every six months after,” Porter added.
Porter has been a reserve officer since 2009 and is a CLEET (Council on Law Enforcement Education & Training) certified instructor. This allows him to write curriculum on criminal elements such as illegal trends.
Other training programs this year involving other criminal elements are scheduled this year as well, Porter explained.