PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With the eighth school shooting this year, local law enforcement and school officials are scrutinizing if they’re doing everything they can to minimize injury should an active school shooter do something here.
“Over the past several years, we’ve also realized that we need to bring everybody else on board with how we respond to these types of incidents,” Mt. Lebanon police chief Aaron Lauth told KDKA’s Jon Delano on Thursday.
Lauth says it’s not just a school or police issue anymore.
“Most of these incidents are a lot of times over before we even arrive on scene, so we need to make sure that we’re educating the public, educating our schools, our faculty, staff, even our students to make sure that they are aware of the options that are available to them,” says the chief.
The strategy for dealing with an active shooter has changed over the years.
Instead of the traditional lockdown and hiding from the shooter, law enforcement and many school districts now recommend a program called ALICE, which provides a lot more options.
ALICE = Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.
South Fayette High School principal Aaron Skrbin coordinates ALICE training for local school districts.
He says the key is to alert — the A in ALICE – by using the public address system to tell everyone exactly where the shooter is — say the gym — allowing some to evacuate, the E in ALICE.
“Based on that information, the classroom teacher then is empowered to decide, OK, we are nowhere near the gym, so we’re going to leave, to get out of the building as fast as we can,” says Skrbin.
If not possible, then L or lockdown.
“If they’re nearby, then we will lockdown but not in the sense we’re going to hide,” Skrbin said. “We’re going to lock the door. We’re going to barricade ourselves in here, and then we are going to get as far out of sight as we can.”
Chief Lauth says the first cop on the scene is trained to neutralize but — as a very last resort — teachers and students can counter the gunman.
Of course, reporting anything suspicious is best.
“We’d much rather know ahead of time. We’d much rather investigate it and find out that it’s nothing,” adds Lauth.