Training program to help officers prepare for worst-case campus scenarios
In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, the UH Police Department has opted to enroll all its officers in an Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training program, Police Chief Malcolm Davis said.
"The class is used to teach basic building blocks to see how officers respond to an emergency situation that requires immediate response," Davis said.
Begun in 2002, the ALERRT program was designed to help law enforcement officers, particularly first-responder officers, to quickly identify a situation, effectively handle is and stop an active shooter as quickly as possible without harming innocent bystanders.
A collaborative project between Texas State University at San Marcos and Hays County, ALERRT has trained more than 10,000 first-responder officers since its inception and has been awarded more than $7 million in state and federal funds.
The two-day class, which was held this summer at the University of Texas Medical Center, begins with classroom instruction that covers a historical overview, survival stress reaction, force-on-force practical exercises and various shooting scenarios.
In the overview, officers are taught how to react in an active shooting scenario versus a barricade hostage situation.
In a barricade hostage situation, there is not a sense of immediacy, Davis said.
A barricade situation is when a hysterical person is using a hostage for leverage.
He said in an active shooter situation, the shooter shoots to kill.
"In this situation an officer will only stop shooting for three reasons," he said. "He will stop when he runs out of bullets, if the person kills himself or if the shooter is gunned down by someone else."
To date, UH has not had an emergency situation where students have been in danger. The ALERRT program trains officers to know what to do in a dangerous "what if" situation.
"This training forces (them) to think outside the box; it forces them to think what could happen," Davis said.
UHPD Capt. Brad Wigtil spearheaded efforts to coordinate an ALERRT class for UH police officers. He said overall he had positive feedback from all the officers, and they will continue to offer the course annually.
Wigtil said they are selecting experienced UH officers to participate in ALERRT’s training program, which will prepare more seasoned officers to effectively teach the course to others in UHPD.
To report an emergency, contact UHPD at (713)-743-3333.