ALICE Educates at San Diego Mesa College

Lora Neshovska , Features Editor

San Diego Mesa College took a step to promote campus safety by empowering and teaching its staff how to respond in the case of an active shooter event.

The ALICE Training Program, a national initiative, was taught by the San Diego Mesa College Police Department and Emergency Management Resource Team on campus on Oct. 30. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate and aims to stimulate proactivity by providing prior training and education.

Until 2001, school’s response action to an active shooter alert was simply lockdown. In order to increase chances of survival, ALICE was created, offering non-sequential variety of options on staying safe and surviving an active shooter threat. These include Evacuate whenever possible, Lockdown if there is no evacuation option, Inform police authorities, Alert others in the area and if all else fails, be prepared to Counter the shooter.

Specifically at Mesa College, the Police Department suggests contacting the dispatch number before anyone else, so they can respond in the fastest way possible.

Part of the lecture discussed vaguely the mindset of a shooter and how these tactics are meant to work as a counter force. Previous information shows that police authorities arrive to the scene 5-7 minutes after the alert. Shooters generally are aware of this, therefore try to maximize their damage in that time frame. Taking steps to distract the aggressor buys time and ideally, safety.

The instructors demonstrated different ways of locking down, including adding resistance under the door and if possible, disabling the door opening mechanism. Additionally, creating a barricade and gathering anything that could serve as a weapon is advised.

“Know what to expect and have a plan,” Police Officer Angie Kasinak urges. ALICE stresses the importance of being prepared and ready to act, if need be. Making a plan ahead of time can assure proper communication and teamwork. According to Police Officer Jeff Rabine, in case the aggressor is in close proximity and gets distracted, it is possible to collectively tackle them in order to disarm them. This is a last resort and shouldn’t be done alone.

 The San Diego Mesa College Police Department made suggestions to faculty and staff to inform students about this procedure and empower them to act if necessary.

“We really want you to use the redbox, know where it is in your classroom. I would encourage faculty members to make sure that their students know where that button is,” San Diego Community College Dispatch Supervisor, Sheila Herron says.

Much of the ALICE training was focused on empowerment and teaching. The 22 staff members who attended the training left with a better understanding of the reality of a potential threat, as well as the ability to most appropriately react to it.

Anita Plagge, a Biology professor at San Diego Mesa College says she feels safer being prepared for an active shooter event and learning new tactics to protect herself.

“Knowledge is power, if you know it, your chances are better,” she expresses.

In case of any emergency, that number is (619)-388-6405.