ALICE training is in place at Millersville to help students and staff better grasp what to do in the event that an active shooter is on campus. Millersville Police Chief Peter Anders said it’s a tough conversation to have, but a necessary one.
Anders spent 21 years in the Lancaster City Police Department. Anders, who survived being shot, has responded to a little bit of everything. He knows what it means to be prepared. That’s why since 2013, Anders has led Millersville University (MU) in ALICE training.
“The reality is it’s a conversation that our students want to have,” Anders said. “We’re realizing that some people are actually changing their activities because of anxiety or concern being in an environment, a movie theatre, church, mall, where a shooting can occur. The chances of that occurring in the U.S. are low, but if we can think about what we could do to help myself, friends, family and what options I have, it’s empowering.”
ALICE was the first training program in the country that provided staff and students with an option-based response to an active shooter gaining entry into a school, business or any organization, according to the company’s website. It was developed following the tragic events at Columbine High School more than 20 years ago.
ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. The acronym, Anders said, doesn’t have to be performed in order. The training is all about letting people know they have options. Previously, the most well-known type of response to active shooters was shelter-in-place.
“Forcing people to shelter in place goes against the intuitive response of fight or flight,” Anders said. “ALICE is something I would tell my own children. A police officer would never tell students to crouch against a wall when they could run or climb out of a building.”
ALICE training at Millersville takes place several times each semester from Anders and professors. In the fall semester, it included separate presentations by Anders, Drs. Rebecca Mowrey and Tiffany Wright. Within the presentations were demonstrations, discussion, video and analyses of past tragic events.
ALICE training isn’t restricted to just schools and campuses. The purpose is to get people thinking about how they would handle an active shooter situation in every building and area they are in.
“If we don’t prepare for active shootings, I think people may have fewer options come to mind in the moment,” said Mowrey, professor of wellness and sports sciences and graduate sport management program coordinator at Millersville. “It’s a possibility in our society and in the world, why would we not talk about what we could do if it occurred?”
Mowrey presented to a group of about 40 graduate and undergraduate students including working sport management professionals. During practice sessions, students barricaded entrances and prepared to counter in the event that an active shooter was able to gain access. Students discussed what worked well and identified options that were underutilized and available within their unique facilities and fields of study.
“I work with leaders in the sport management industries,” Mowrey said. They have an opportunity to talk about it, train and prepare other people. I feel like as an educator, it’s the responsible thing for me to do.”
Dr. Tiffany Wright was a former high school principal and is currently an associate professor, graduate coordinator for leadership and coordinator of doctoral studies in educational leadership at Millersville.
Wright prepares future educational leaders across the country and believed ALICE would be a good fit for her curriculum, which is taught yearly in her spring semester. Some of her students are already working professionals, allowing for the training to get more in-depth.
“They have found it very helpful,” Wright said. “These are future school principals and educational leaders. They can take this information and embed it into the places they work for a more-prepared environment.”
Anders will continue to teach ALICE training in 2020, likely right before the spring semester begins, he said. The training is typically held for student-teachers, but all students are free to join. Campus organizations can also request training sessions. For more information, students should email Anders at Peter.Anders@millersville.edu