Entries in ALICE (2)


School Safety Experts Disagree on Lock Down Procedures After Newtown Shooting

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Along with fire drills, schools have been conducting lockdown drills -- often known as active shooter drills -- since the Columbine massacre in 1999.

But safety officials do not agree yet on what teachers and students should do when a homicidal gunman invades their school.

At Sandy Hook Elementary School, teachers, staff and students had been drilled on how to handle such a situation.

"We practice it, and they knew what to do, and you just think about protecting the kids, and just doing the right thing," library clerk Mary Ann Jacob said.

She said she had been drilled to send the kids in the library to a back closet between book shelves, a plan developed in advance.

"You have to have a certain amount of fire drills, and evacuation drills, and a certain amt of lockdown drills," she said. "Kids know the routine, and the teachers know the routine, and everyone has a spot in the room where they are supposed to go to."

School safety expert Ken Trump told ABC News that he thinks the Sandy Hook teachers did what they could to protect their students.

"It does sound as though the teachers did everything humanly possible, down to risking their lives, to protect the children in this Connecticut school," Trump said.

The school's principal and five other adults died in the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

"Teaching kids to lock down, securing your rooms, and, in some cases, teachers stepping forth to protect the children at the risk of their own lives, is something that we see occurring more and more over the years in school safety," Trump said.

He and others particularly praised the actions of first grade teacher Kaitlin Roig, who locked her classroom door and barricaded herself and her 14 students in a locked bathroom.

But former SWAT officer Greg Crane told ABC News that he thinks existing lockdown procedures aren't sufficient.

"What she [Roig] did was a fantastic move," said Crane, who founded a school safety program called ALICE, which stands for alert, lock down, inform, counter, evacuate.

"Was she taught that move? Did every teacher know to lock the door and also barricade it? If that's the case, why weren't other teachers taught that?" Crane asked.

Most schools tell teachers to lock their doors and sit quietly until helps arrives, Crane said.

Typical are the procedures, obtained by, outlined by a New Jersey school district that calls their drills "Lock Down Yellow."

Instructions to the students include:

"Go to the room nearest your location in the hallway.

"No one will be able to leave room for any reason.

"Silence must be maintained (Use of cell phones are not permitted).

"Make sure you are marked present.

"Do not leave the classroom until directed by PA System, telephone or by an administrator."

But Crane founded ALICE because he believed there was something wrong with the lock down-only policies in most schools.

"We've taught a generation of Americans to be passive and static and wait for police," said Crane, whose wife was an elementary school principal in Texas at the time of the Columbine attack.

"We don't recommend just locking a door because locked doors have been defeated before," Crane said. "Try to make yourself as hard a target as possible."

ALICE argues students and teachers should not be passive and that they should improvise. He even suggests they throw things at their attacker.

Crane said 300 schools and universities have implemented ALICE since the mid-2000s, but Sandy Hook Elementary was not one of them.

In the days to come, Crane said he will be curious to learn how long it took for word of the shooting to reach teachers before the shooter made it to certain classrooms, and whether anyone had time to leave. He pointed out that the people shot and killed in the Columbine library sat there for five minutes before the shooters entered and shot 18 of them.

Crane said standard lockdown drills often happen only once a year, but fire drills happen once a month. When he teaches ALICE courses at schools, teachers often tell him standard lockdown drills involve turning out the lights and sitting quietly for 20 minutes, which doesn't make them feel safe.

In response to the Connecticut shooting, police in New York City, Los Angeles, Oakland, and several Maryland school districts stepped up visible school security.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


School Shooting Protocol Shifts From Lockdown-Only

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CANTON, Mass.) -- Students in Canton, Mass., are the latest to receive training that would give them a more proactive role in responding to a school shooter. Instead of hiding, they would barricade doors and learn counter techniques.

The program, called ALICE -- alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate -- has been implemented in 300 schools since it was founded in the mid-2000s by former SWAT officer Greg Crane and his wife, a former school principal.

After the Columbine shooting in 1999, Crane said he realized the lockdown-only policies most schools have aren't enough to protect students if there is a shooter on the loose. By locking doors and hiding, students become easy targets, he said.

"You look at Columbine and every single child killed in the library that morning," Crane told, referring to the library in which 52 children and teachers hid for more than four minutes before the gunmen entered and shot 18 of them. "They were all sitting down. ... Why were they there five minutes when they had five minutes to do something else?"

In Canton, the adoption of ALICE training has been received with some hesitation from the Canton School Committee, the Boston Globe reports. After a reporter questioned local officials, the committee called a meeting on Nov. 15 to discuss the program.

"Truthfully, we're a little behind the information curve on all of this," committee chairman John Bonnanzio told the Globe on Thursday. "At the very least we need to be able to ask some questions. We think the community should be able to weigh in, too."

The C in ALICE is for "counter," and that's often the most controversial step, but it's also a last resort, Crane said.

Usually only for older students, "counter" involves making use of students' advantage in numbers over the lone shooter, because 97 percent of shooters act alone, Crane said. In his experience, police are often less accurate shooters during shootouts because of overwhelming stimuli, like noise. Taking that knowledge into account, Crane's program suggests that students keep moving, make noise, and sometimes throw things.

"There are things you can do to make yourself a harder target," Crane said.

Of course, "counter" only happens if the student comes face-to-face with a shooter.

"Maybe it is thought out completely, but we need details," Bonnanzio told the Globe. "Maybe giving these kinds of instructions to children in the high school, as opposed to the elementary schools, is a better idea."

Crane said training differs based on age, but it's ultimately up to local law enforcement to decide who learns what.

Other ALICE steps include an updated version of "lockdown" because doors -- especially those with glass -- can be easy to break through, Crane said. Since shooters know they have a finite amount of time to kill people, Crane said they'll often move on if entering one classroom takes too long. As such, ALICE involves barricading doors. For instance, one teacher he trained plans to tie a 400-pound filing cabinet to the door handle of her classroom to make it difficult to open.

But ALICE has its critics, most notably, Kenneth Trump, a school safety consultant in Ohio who runs a consulting firm called National School Safety and Security Services.

Trump argues on the NSSSS website that Crane's expectations are unrealistic. He told the Globe that as soon as a student is shot obeying ALICE standards, parents are going to ask who taught them to do that.

But Crane says law enforcement haven't proven that they can arrive in time to save lives during a shooting. As such, students should have options and decide for themselves how to react.

Crane said he knows of two instances in which ALICE saved lives. During the high school cafeteria shooting in Ohio this February, for example, a young girl ran from the cafeteria because her mom received training and told her never to just duck and cover during a shooting. The girl brought several friends with her, but four people who remained were shot, and three of them died.

"She did the right thing," Crane said. "She made herself a very hard target."

ALICE trainings will also be held in Nebraska, Ohio and Indiana this month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio