Manassas Park City Schools has adopted enhanced safety procedures that we, as well as the experts across the country, believe will increase the chance of survival should an armed intruder enter our schools. These enhanced procedures provide our staff and students additional response options by utilizing the A.L.I.C.E. approach.
Alert - Get the word out! Use clear, concise language to convey the type and location of the event
Lockdown - We will continue to lock down students when it is the best option
Inform - Communication allows for good decision-making
Counter - Apply skills to distract, confuse and gain control
Evacuate - Get out! Put distance between you and the intruder
In short, when faced with an armed intruder invading our secure area, we will use the A.L.I.C.E. approach to:
- Listen carefully to the location and type of event
- Get to and/or remain in a secure area until it is safe to evacuate
- Apply skills to distract, confuse and gain control should an armed intruder enter the area
- Evacuate as soon as it is safe
In No Way are we asking or teaching our students to make any attempt to subdue an armed intruder. However, we will provide them with options that can be applied if faced with a life or death situation to enhance their chances for survival. Some of the methods that will be taught, in the event they are confronted by an armed intruder are:
- Cause distractions to interfere with the ability to shoot accurately
- Cause as much chaos in the room as possible to create sensory overload
- Do not be a stationary target
- How to control the attacker using body weight
- Where to go once you have escaped, i.e. identified reunification point
- Do people need to follow A.L.i.C.E in order? Are you supposed to Alert, then lockdown, then inform?
- Is the adoption of the A.L.i.C.E Protocol an admission that the schools are not safe?
- If my child gets proactive in an emergency situation, couldn’t they get hurt?
- Is there a possibility of secondary attacks if people are trying to leave the area?
- Should we be teaching aggression in schools?
- How will parents be notified if their child’s school is in lockdown?
- Isn’t this what the police are for?
- Will MPPD be in schools to help teachers become aware of surrounding and provide scenarios/possibilities for an active shooter situation?
- Do we want the bad guy to know that we know where he is?
- Won’t proactive actions agitate the gunman to commit violence?
- Will teaching staff and students to be proactive increase our liability?
- Who should make the decision as to what is the best option to take?
- Won’t we lose control of the event if people make their own decision and do whatever they decide they need to do??
- Why change something that has always worked?
- Could we be training our future “enemy”?
- How will the information be presented to children at the Elementary and Intermediate levels?
A.L.i.C.E is NOT meant to be a check list of things to do. It is a list of choices we are offering our students and staff in order to stay safe in the highly unlikely event of an armed intruder. Some may choose to evacuate and some may choose to lockdown and barricade. Others may be forced to counter if an armed intruder is able to enter the space they are in. A.L.i.C.E is about giving people choices.
There is always a possibility of a secondary attack, no matter what the event. But our fear of the unknown should not interfere with our manner of dealing with the known. Common sense says a shooter inside the building should dictate getting out, much more than the fear of perhaps another shooter outside should dictate staying inside with the known shooter. Any shooters outside will be contacted and neutralized by police much quicker than one inside the building.
Regardless of what policy is in place, should a violent event occur on the campus, all involved agencies, and individuals, will be sued. How should we set ourselves up to defend our actions: We set out a precise set of procedures for potential victims to follow (and it didn’t work), or, We provided information a range of options that those in danger could follow based on their situation at any given moment during the event.
Those under attack should make the decision that is best for them given the situation. It is unrealistic to think we can write a policy that ten years down the road will precisely fit the violent situation we are experiencing. Information and training is what will allow those under attack to make an informed decision to Fight, Flight, or Freeze, and that will lead to their survival.
Yes, there will be a time when centralized Command and Control will be lost. But in actuality, there is anyway. During the initial attack, the attacker is in control. Proactive action on behalf of the targets, will quickly remove his Command and Control. Also, Command and Control ability of the Administration and Police is secondary to the ability of those under attack to survive.
All drills and training will be age appropriate. MPCS and MPPD are working together to be sure that we do not scare or confuse elementary students while at the same time getting them the information they need if an event occurs. Secondary students will also participate in age-appropriate training with scenarios. No surprise drills that involve a pretend active shooter will ever be held in MPCS with students.
- ALICE Training Institute
- Readiness & Emergency Management for Schools
- Safe Schools: Assessing School Safety (Online Training Courses)
- Critical Incident Response Video (password: rsmaccess)
- National Incident Management System (NIMS) & Incident Command System (ICS)
- VA Department of Criminal Justice Services - School and Campus Safety