Southmont School Resource Officer (SRO) Jennifer Griffith and North Montgomery SRO Brett Dale are in the process of training everyone in both districts on how to be safe in an intruder or active shooter situation. Southmont teachers are being trained in several sessions this month while Dale said North teachers had their training in October. Both officers plan to train students of all ages at a level that they can cope with and understand in the coming months.

While Griffith said an intruder situation is not likely or expected it is important to prepare. Griffith said active shooter and intruder training is just one thing that Southmont and all county schools train for, there are also plans in place for all disasters. However, active shooters are increasingly a worry for schools.

“We can’t just hide our heads and hope that it doesn’t happen,” Griffith said. “If it does happen I can definitely say we will be prepared.”

Griffith and the sheriff’s department have studied intruder and shooter situations around the country and Griffith and the department believes that ALICE training is the best way to go. She said ALICE—Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate—is a set of advice to follow rather than a list to check off. ALICE gives teachers and staff a choice for survival.

“ALICE empowers the staff. Instead of training somebody just to lock the door, turn off the lights close the blinds and get down, it gives them more options,” Griffith said. “You know, if there is an intruder in the office the rest of the school can get out instead of locking down and waiting for the suspect to get to your area.”

Alerting the building is important to the process and Griffith said there are a few security flaws that could pose a problem for Southmont elementary schools especially because the only access to the PA system is in the front office. She said teachers can also yell the shooter location if the PA is down or if the front office is compromised.

The counter portion of ALICE might sound controversial to some parents because ALICE does advise teachers and students to engage the shooter if necessary for survival. She is not advising them to fight in all situations, only when it’s a matter of life and death. For example they could throw a book or a chair at the shooter to injure or slow him or her down for an easier escape.

“We are by no means teaching students or staff members to fight but we are telling them if they need to engage the killer to save their lives, they should do it,” Griffith said. “It is better than being a sitting duck.” 

Superintendent of Southmont Schools Shawn Greiner hopes the ALICE training can help students long after they graduate.

“These skills are skills that you can use for the rest of your life. If you are in a supermarket your best bet might be to get down and hide, but your best might also be to run or to pick up tin cans and throw them at the shooter,” Greiner said. “It’s not rocket science. It is common sense think on your feet survival skills you can use to keep yourself safe.”

A public presentation will be given at Southmont High School on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. for any parent or interested citizen who would like to know more about the training.