ACPD educates staff, students on safety in event of shooter

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Written by | RANDI RIGGS |

Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, California, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Maryland, Texas, Hawaii, North Carolina, Virginia and 21 other states have had school shootings since 2010. Spanning from someone bringing a gun on campus, shots fired, murder-suicide to mass killings, all happened in the past few years. Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, was the one with the largest loss of life. On Dec. 14, 2010, 26 people were shot and killed; 20 of the victims were first-grade children.

According to USA Today, more than 900 people died in mass shootings during the past seven years. Fifty-six of those incidents examined by researchers took place in schools or colleges. When someone sees such reports on the news, they may wonder what they might do if there were an active shooter on campus or in their school. Marcy McManon, a general studies major, knows exactly what she would do if there were a school shooter on campus.

“I would distract them and then attack,” she said. “I watched a video about it in my FYS class.” Hanging on the wall in the Amarillo College Police Department is a picture with three words on it: “Run, Hide, Fight.” If there were an active shooter, one is told to first run. If they cannot run, hide in the nearest out-of-sight place. If there isn’t one, then the last resort is to fight.

Maria Elizalde, a future elementary specialist, has thought about hiding. “You hide in a closet or behind a door,” she said. “Stay in the classroom and not make a noise.” AC recently changed its policy and procedures. ADD is the acronym for the new procedure employees are trained to follow. It stands for Avoid, Deny, Defend. Cpl. Scott Acker of the ACPD said, “Avoid meaning stay away; check all exits to get out.

“Deny means barricade yourself in a closet or in a classroom where they can’t get to you. “And the last and probably the most important one is defend. You never want it to get to that, but if it does, take action and incapacitate him.” All ACPD employees are trained and certified in ALERT 1, which is Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, in San Marcos.

“Each one knows how to respond to an active shooter situation,” Acker said. “If they hear shots fired, police have to assume people are in there and actively dying, and if we can’t wait around, then we go in.” Three minutes is the average response time for law enforcement in Amarillo. “If you can hang on for three minutes, then the cavalry will be there,” Acker said. “It is the normal response time. Here on campus, our response time will be less than a minute.”

In the next month, Acker and ACPD will offer a training class for students, faculty and staff on how to respond to an active shooter. Acker said he wants all students to participate. “Students should definitely be involved,” he said. “Say a student is by themselves in a common area; this class will teach how to react and not be a sitting duck. We will be training everyone, the whole AC family.”

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