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Albany 'Civilian Response to Active Shooter' Public Forum Monday Night

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WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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Police and school officials are conducting an active shooter training exercise tonight at Albany High School. 

The Albany School District and the Albany Police Department are co-sponsoring a community tonight to help residents learn how to respond if confronted with a potentially life-threatening emergency situation.  Albany police spokesman Steve Smith:    "This is actually a training that we've held across the city for a while now. We've trained thousands of not just city employees but employees for private businesses, and it's called 'Civilian Response To Active Shooter Events.'"

The idea for the program goes back 19 years.    "Following Columbine, law enforcement agencies around the country really had to take a deeper look into how they respond to incidents involving active shooters or just high-stress incidents in general. Working with the Texas State University, they have a program called ALERRT — it's Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training — we've been able to gather more training so that we can use that training  to educate members of our community on how to respond to, not just active shooter events but high stress situations."

Pete Blair is Executive Director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University.    "When we talk to people we think the first thing is it’s important to spend a little bit of time thinking through what you would do if something did happen so that you're not caught flat-footed, and you'll have a better response when you actually have to react.  As far as what we tell people to do, we want them to first avoid the attack, such as you hear gunfire in the hallway, you're worried if you go out there you might be shot. The next best option is to deny access to your location. Close and lock the door to keep that person from getting to you. And as a last resort, if you find yourself in a close proximity with that person who's trying to murder you, you have a legal right to defend yourself, and you can do that. We've seen that done successfully in several events."

Blair emphasizes a shooting can happen anytime, anywhere. And it's best to be prepared. Besides the do's there are some don'ts:  "There are two things that usually aren't very helpful. The first one is just 'playing dead,' where people just drop and pretend they've been shot. The problem with that is that we've seen at these events the shooters usually shoot people who are standing up, and then once the people who are standing up are down, they shoot the people who are down to make sure that they are, in fact dead. The second thing is doing what we call 'the hide and hope.' It's a good idea to not be seen by the attacker, but you wanna do that in a way that gives you options in case you are found. Ando so, thinks that we see people do like ducking under desks and hiding behind desks are not very good, because if the shooter does find you, you don't have an option about what you're gonna do."

Smith says other issues, including safely evacuating a burning building, will be discussed during the training forum. It starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Albany High School auditorium at 700 Washington Avenue.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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