Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

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Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby Charles L. Cotton » Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:42 pm

Do not let dangerous training get innocent people killed and officers sued.

One of the best known training programs for responding to an “active shooter” was developed by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Center (ALERRT) at Texas State University. Undoubtedly, this program is needed and it is credited as playing a part in changing the mindset as to whether first-responding officers should enter a school building or wait for backup. The University and Dr. Pete Blair, the ALERRT Exec. Director, are to be credited for developing this program for Texas law enforcement officers. That said, there is reason to be concerned, very concerned.

On October 28, 2015, the KSAT station in San Antonio posted an article titled Law allowing guns on campuses could affect officer response to active shooters. The title makes sense as Texas law will allow the carrying of self-defense concealed handguns in buildings at Texas colleges and universities as of August 1, 2016. This fact most definitely should change the law enforcement approach to “active shooter” responses. However, a statement attributed to Dr. Blair is troublesome and should be of concern for law enforcement officers and agencies. Dr. Blair is alleged to have said:
    If there’s an active shooter event and you're a person with a gun, you look like the active shooter,” Blair said. “You need to know that. You need to be aware of that. You need to know that if police see you with a gun, there's a high probability that you will be shot.”
    (Emphasis added.)
No Dr. Blair, one does not “look like the active shooter,” they look like a person with a handgun. This warning by Dr. Blair is not the idle rambling of an alarmist; he knows of what he speaks. The ALERRT training program teaches officers to treat everyone on campus with a gun as a “hostile.” One would be hard put to think of another situation where law enforcement officers would be trained to use deadly force against a person who was engaging in a lawful activity. The law has a word for that – murder.

Other than the ominous statement by Dr. Blair, his warning to concealed handgun licensees (CHLs) who choose to carry concealed handguns in college buildings is well-stated. The dangers he describes are very real and the CHL must take care not to do anything that makes it appear that they are the “bad guy.” Running around with a gun in your hand is not a way to achieve this goal! CHLs must consider the fact that emotions and adrenalin will be pumping like Texas crude in 1901, both in students, COPs and the real “bad guy.”

It is equally important that every ALERRT instructor and every Texas peace officer who has had, or will have, ALERT Training understand that Texas law has changed and they are more likely to encounter armed “good guys” in college buildings. (Texas law has always authorized all schools to allow people to carry handguns, but few if any colleges have done so.) In fact, it is far more likely that an armed student will be a CHL, a “good guy,” than a would-be mass-murderer. Officers need to understand this fact and trainers need to emphasize it. Any officer that attends a class that teaches him or her to shoot anyone and everyone with a gun needs to walk out of that class. Any trainer that uses material that teaches that concept needs to throw that material in the garbage.

Citizens can take comfort in the fact that law enforcement officers are trained in dealing with armed subjects and they have an excellent overall record. Otherwise, every person they encounter with a gun would get shot and that is certainly not the case. However, “active shooters” on school grounds generate a greater sense of urgency and emotions will run high for everyone. Do not make the COPs’ jobs harder by doing, or teaching, something stupid.

The ALERRT training is well-respected and there is every reason to believe that its training material will be amended to reflect the fact that so-called “campus-carry” is now legal. Otherwise, it will be a course that teaches officers how to get indicted, and sued along with their agencies.
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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby jb2012 » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:20 pm

I addressed this very article the other day in another thread. What Mr. Blair also fails to understand, is that as a chl holder, you take the risk of being mistaken for a "bad guy" every single day.


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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby txcharvel » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:55 pm

Charles, excellent post as always. ALERRT is indeed excellent training and I know several officers that have been through it.

The statement "You need to know that if police see you with a gun, there's a high probability that you will be shot.” is a tiresome argument. Law enforcement officers that are against the idea of citizens being armed have used this argument for some time against concealed carry. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've heard this.

When a CHL holder is faced with an active shooter scenario, it's probably not going to be a prolonged shootout. It's more likely to be that the CHL holder, with the element of surprise on their side, takes out the shooter or else falls victim to the shooter. All of this will happen withing the first minute or two of an event, possibly even the initial seconds. Well before any law enforcement will be able to respond.

When I hear this argument, I always ask the person to name an active shooter event that law enforcement has successfully stopped. Until recently (the shooter in Arlington TX at the draw Muhammad event) , there were none that I'm aware of. All the events in recent history were stopped when the shooter decided to take his own life.

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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby mojo84 » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:01 pm

This training and discussion came up at my church not long ago. The police chief warned us that anybody with a gun in their hand could be seen as a threat by the responding officers.

The advice he gave was for us to hit the ground, stay down, run out if possible and let the trained responding officers deal with the threat.

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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby Jago668 » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:47 pm

I have to agree with txcharvel on this one. There are a few possibilities. You aren't near the shooting so don't have your gun out, no threat from police. Near shooting but not actively involved, so probably gun out aiming at the door, small possibility of police problem but not exactly likely. Actively involved with the shooter in which case you've downed them (or they shoot themselves), or you are down. If they are down, you can holster and be nonthreatening when the police get there. If you get shot then you aren't exactly a threat when the police get there (what with trying to keep all your blood on the inside); you are shot and dead in which case doesn't really matter to you if the police shoot your dead body up.
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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby MONGOOSE » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:54 pm

How do I know that a shooter isn't dressed as a LEO or security guard? Aim a weapon at me and I have just as much justification to put you down.

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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby mojo84 » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:27 pm

MONGOOSE wrote:How do I know that a shooter isn't dressed as a LEO or security guard? Aim a weapon at me and I have just as much justification to put you down.


I don't see that working out well for you.


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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby MONGOOSE » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:28 pm

I don't see that working out well for anyone.

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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby Deltaboy » Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:03 pm

This training needs to be adjusted to today's New world. :tiphat:
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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby nightmare69 » Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:11 am

I've been through ALERRT and with any call whether it's a civil stand by or an active shooter, anyone with a deadly weapon will be viewed as a threat. The key is to comply with the officers commands. We learned in training that unless the suspect is threatening or shooting citizens or yourself/officers, you always yell "drop the gun" several times before reacting with deadly force.

If you don't comply or point the firearm towards myself then well...I will protect myself just as you would in that situation.
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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby mojo84 » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:10 am

Dr. Blair's comments are insulting to police officers in my opinion. I believe nightmare69's comments are the way officers will typically react. I don't see the typical good officer just indiscriminately shooting anyone with a gun.

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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby Excaliber » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:50 am

Trainers try to find ways to make complex things as simple as possible so most trainees can respond properly under high stress when cognitive thinking abilities are significantly reduced.

The danger is that oversimplification trains people to respond inappropriately a significant portion of the time.


Training needs to take into account the actual law and the realities of the street. Building deadly force training around what one wishes the law was is a surefire way to find oneself in deep kimchee.

If ALERRT is training officers to shoot anyone with a gun (and I hope they're not), they would be well into this territory. That response mode would be foreseeably likely to result in the deaths of school marshals, armed teachers, and off duty LEO's who happen to be caught up in an active shooter event. If ALERRT's training could be shown to be a causal contributor to that outcome, the folks who developed and delivered the training should expect major legal repercussions as well.


I sincerely hope Dr. Blair's statement was just an unclear cautionary reminder that a good guy with gun in hand is always at risk of being mistaken for a bad guy by responding officers. This is true in any situation anywhere and applies to plainclothes or off duty LEO's as well, but a clarification would certainly help a lot of folks become a lot less uneasy.
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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby Charles L. Cotton » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:28 am

nightmare69 wrote:I've been through ALERRT and with any call whether it's a civil stand by or an active shooter, anyone with a deadly weapon will be viewed as a threat. The key is to comply with the officers commands. We learned in training that unless the suspect is threatening or shooting citizens or yourself/officers, you always yell "drop the gun" several times before reacting with deadly force.

If you don't comply or point the firearm towards myself then well...I will protect myself just as you would in that situation.

I cannot go into detail, but remember that ALERRT trainers are like CHL instructors, they vary not only in style, but sometimes in what they teach. This is especially true with so-called "school shooter" situations.

The former Chief of the Rice University Police Dept. made a public statement that his officers had been instructed to shoot anyone on campus with a gun. He was fired not long after. I feel quite certain he and his officers have had ALERRT training.

There is a reason I wrote that article and it's not solely because of the ominous statement that was attributed to Dr. Blair.

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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby C-dub » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:58 am

It is a great article Charles. The training does need to be revised and most officers probably won't have much trouble determining who's good or bad when they arrive at an event. However, it is a possibility the we still need to be aware of because it does happen. Some police have even killed their own in situations like this. This is an event that I specifically remembered from years ago that was very unfortunate.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/white-officer-kills-black-mistaking-criminal-article-1.372647

An off-duty rookie cop chasing a suspected car thief in East Harlem with his gun drawn was shot and killed Thursday night when an officer mistook him for a criminal.
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Re: Texas Peace Officers Need to Reevaluate their ALERRT Training!

Postby baldeagle » Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:55 am

Law enforcement officers have a special burden. In any situation that involves a man with a gun, a CHL holder only has to determine one thing; is the person with the gun a threat to me or others in the immediate area? If the answer is yes, then you fire. You are in the situation, you've seen the initial action, you know what's going on.

When a LEO arrives on the scene they know very little about the situation other than what they've been told by a dispatcher relaying secondhand information from people whose fear colors their reporting. They have to determine who the bad guy(s) is or are, determine whether they represent a current threat and be aware of everyone around them, because they don't even know if there's more than one. In fact, they'd better assume there's more than one, because their life may depend on it.

(It's important to note here that an unobservant or unalert CHL holder wouldn't know this either. CHLers should always keep in mind that the likelihood of a man with a gun having accomplices is high enough to be a concern.)

The Erik Scott shooting at the Costco in Las Vegas is a perfect example of where incorrect information relayed through dispatchers colored the LEOs' assessment of the situation and caused the death of an innocent man.

So the police can't just go in to a situation with guns blazing. They have to be on high alert, assess, under extreme stress, a situation and sort out the threats very quickly, isolate them and then engage, which could mean yelling "put the gun down" or immediately taking the threat out. IOW, while the CHL has watched the situation unfold and has a sound basis for deadly force deployment, the LEO has to include all of the assessment phase AFTER arrival on the scene in a very chaotic and extremely dangerous situation.

An example of this is the Abby Giffords situation. A CHLer arrived on the scene AFTER others had taken the shooter down. He saw a good guy with a gun in his hand (he had disarmed the shooter) and had to decide if he was a threat or not. He decided, correctly, that the man with the gun was not a threat and holstered his weapon.

If police are being trained to go into an active shooter situation with guns blazing, then the trainers, as well as the involved officers, are criminally liable for the outcome, because they are NOT training lawful tactics.
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