PORTLAND, Texas — It’s a situation that everybody hopes will never happen, but one that law enforcement is preparing for — a school shooting.
In light of the recent shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Gov. Greg Abbott requestedMonday that all school districts, primarily school-based law enforcement, be trained under the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training program before the next school year begins.
The ALERRT program was developed by Texas State University. It focuses on teaching law enforcement agencies, school administrators, and community members about how to handle active attack situations.
Jack McCarty is a certified ALERRT instructor that works as a harbor safety enforcement officer at the Aransas Pass Police Department.
He trains police departments across the Coastal Bend, and says, the training is mentally and physically intense.
Level one of the program teaches law enforcement about how to enter classrooms safely and stop the intruder from attacking. Level two focuses on how officers can treat their injuries or stop people from dying.
The program also simulates a shooting. During the training, a fake gun fires at officers at a school while actors with fake blood simulate screams.
Mccarty said it teaches them how to prepare mentally in case someone who has been trained freezes on scene from mental shock.
“We’re all human. It’s going to happen. Some people cannot handle the stress. We never know until it actually happens what someone’s going to do, so this is why we’re teaching those principles, everybody is working together rather than just relying on one singular person,” he said.
ALERRT also teaches law enforcement about who calls the shots, and how different law enforcement departments should work together. McCarty said that could be the hardest part of an active shooter situation.
“Linking up with other law enforcement is the most dangerous part of the event because everyone is on a heightened sense of awareness and sometimes they may miss the little badge on the belt or whatever. This is being able to communicate with other law enforcement officers,” he said."
The Portland Police Department is one of the departments the APPD trains.
Portland Police Department, Chief Mark Cory said the ALERRT program helped them respond to a false alarm in November when they got calls about an alleged active shooter at Gregory Portland High School.
“It went as planned and I was extremely proud of the way we handled that situation,” Chief Cory recalled.
He said the program taught them the importance of working with other law enforcement agencies.
“We would respond as one cohesive unit and take care of what needs to be stopped,” he added.
Tuesday, Chief Cory will be talking to the Portland City Council about how officers would respond to an active shooter situation and how they work with Gregory Portland ISD.