Bourne Police Department recently urged the school committee to review and improve lockdown procedures to increase student and staff safety during a crisis. Detective David J. Wilson made the recommendation at the August 14 school committee meeting based on a new approach to lockdown, known as ALICE, that is also being recommended by Homeland Security and the Department of Education.
ALICE is an acronym for several levels of action any age person can take during an emergency event. The capital letters stand for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.
“Student safety is always at the forefront of our brains. We review this procedure annually and have made many improvements over the last two years and will continue to review and improve,” Bourne superintendent Steven M. Lamarche said.
As of two years ago Bourne schools did not have a unified lockdown procedure or annual review. Each building had its own procedure. The impetus to create a unified procedure came from Mr. Lamarche in response to several nationally publicized shootings around the country. Because of those fatal events, crisis management has become a reality and a priority for all school administrators.
Det. Wilson called the current lockdown procedure in place a passive procedure and promoted the ALICE method because of its more active approach.
“ALICE empowers staff and students and volunteers to proactively respond to a crisis,” Det. Wilson said.
The major difference between the current lockdown procedure and ALICE is communication. People within the school building at the time of a crisis are encouraged to use current technology with school and personal communication devices to alert and inform the rest of the school about what is going on. Currently during lockdown everyone is to remain silent and stay hidden.
In the case of a violent intruder more communication will help to evacuate people from the building. “We have learned from past school shooting events that evacuation and getting everyone out of harm’s way is the goal,” Det. Wilson said.
Police response time to past violent intruders at schools was on average five to six minutes. “So much can happen in those five to six minutes that we have to give citizens the tools they need to keep themselves safe until we get there,” Det. Wilson said.
Several school systems such as New York Public Schools have already adopted ALICE. The new procedure was developed by a husband and wife from Texas. The husband is a police officer and his wife, an educator.
Parents can find more information at alicetraining.com.
“ALICE is not a stand-alone strategy. It is meant to enhance your emergency planning procedure and move it toward a proactive strategy rather than a traditional lockdown,” Det. Wilson said.
The matter will come back to the school committee for a vote after a review by school administration and the safety committee on how and when to implement any proposed changes.