Governor Robert Bentley on Wednesday announced the creation of a strategic plan for preventing and responding to active shooter events at various types of facilities.
The plan was compiled by Secretary of Law Enforcement and Alabama Department of Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier. Collier compiled the plan at the direction of Governor Bentley and delivered the plan to the Governor.
"We have been working for some time on various methods of preventing and responding to active shooters, and this formal plan will help us coordinate those efforts," Governor Bentley said. "By increasing law enforcement training, educating the public and preparing response plans, we can take steps now that could help save lives in the future."
"From the perspective of law enforcement, we are not at a point where we can predict active shooter incidents, but we can be as trained and prepared as possible should they occur," Collier said. "To be able to notify the public regarding how to handle themselves during an active shooter situation will hopefully save lives."
"While no strategy can completely prevent an active shooter event, certain steps can be taken to decrease a potential shooter's chances of successfully carrying out his or her plan," the Active Shooter Response Plan states. "Being prepared is the best defense."
Three top priorities are outlined in the formal long-range plan. The plan documents the manner in which these priorities will be addressed:
Law Enforcement: Continue and expand training for law enforcement in how to respond to and combat an active shooter event through ALERRT (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training).
1. The purpose of this federally-approved program is to train law enforcement officers to safely and effectively neutralize an active shooter.
2. ALERRT has been approved for the use of US DHS grant funds, which is a great cost savings to the State of Alabama.
3. Currently, about 45% of law enforcement officers in the State of Alabama are now formally trained in combating active shooters. The long-range goal of this plan is to help ensure every officer receives this training. Also, there are efforts to make ALERRT training a requirement in the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission.
General Public: Engage the private sector in sharing information, and educate the general public on how to respond to an active shooter event.
1. Partnering with federal counterparts, AL DHS is taking part in an active shooter awareness campaign to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper local law enforcement entities. This can be a key prevention measure.
2. A hotline is already available to receive anonymous tips on suspicious persons or activity. The state is raising awareness of this hotline. The hotline can be reached at 1-866-229-6220. The hotline connects people with the Alabama Fusion Center, the state's intelligence and information sharing operation.
3. Additionally, AL DHS is currently pursuing the implementation of a suspicious activity reporting "app" for smartphones. This would provide the same reporting capability currently available on the Fusion Center website.
4. A promotional campaign consisting of billboards, digital signage and public service announcements will be used to continue to increase awareness and encourage the public to report any suspicious activity.
5. Use the instructional video "Run, Hide, Fight" to instruct members of the public on how they should respond if they find themselves in the middle of an active shooter situation. DHS instructors will be available to provide additional instruction to those who oversee various public facilities such as offices, government buildings, recreational facilities, etc.
Education Community: Continue work with the Alabama Department of Education, utilizing the Virtual Alabama system, which makes school safety plans immediately accessible to first responders.
1. Virtual Alabama provides schools and first responders instant access to school safety plans and virtual maps. Crucial information such as evacuation routes, disaster staging areas, surveillance video feeds and more can be accessed by first responders through the Virtual Alabama system.
2. On March 4 and 5, 2013, Virtual Alabama held its 3rd annual School Safety Summit in Montgomery, AL. Attendance at the event has tripled, going from roughly 200 participants last year to more than 650 participants this year. Governor Bentley and experts in all areas of school safety spoke with educators and first responders on how to improve conditions within schools. Encouraging additional participation in Virtual Alabama will continue.
"We also recognize there is sometimes a mental health aspect to the prevention of certain crimes," Governor Bentley added. "Some criminal conduct can be addressed by identifying problem behaviors at an earlier age and taking appropriate actions. We are currently working with the Alabama Department of Mental Health on additional strategies for prevention."
"By taking a comprehensive approach, we can develop methods that will continue to increase our safety and preparedness," Governor Bentley concluded. "While nothing could ever prevent all crimes, we will do everything we can to increase safety for our citizens and improve response plans in the event of an emergency."