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ALERRT training saves lives in Alabama shootout

Posted by University News Service

Dec. 14, 2011

Montgomery, Ala., police say a law enforcement training program based at Texas State University-San Marcos saved lives and contributed to the swift resolution of a shooting incident at a postal facility there recently.

Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Murphy credited Texas State’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Program for providing his officers with the skills necessary to prevent a tragedy on Dec. 1.

“Without doubt, the training our officers received from ALERRT really saved lives. Montgomery, Alabama, did not receive national headlines because there was not a mass murder in Montgomery on December first – and for that we are grateful to ALERRT at Texas State and the training they provided,” said Murphy. “There is no end to the gratitude we have for this training. ALERRT gave our officers the tools and the knowledge and the confidence to save lives.”

Police say a 29-year-old postal employee armed with several pistols entered the main postal facility in Montgomery at the start of his shift on Dec. 1. Multiple shots were fired.

First responding Montgomery police officers – using methods taught by ALERRT trainers – entered the building and took the suspect into custody within 10 minutes of the initial 911 call. No one was injured. The suspect has been charged with two counts of attempted murder.

Of the 12 Montgomery officers who responded to the call, 10 had received ALERRT training, Murphy said.

ALERRT Assistant Director Terry Nichols supervised some of the ALERRT training classes in Montgomery.

“From the 1966 tower shooting at the University of Texas, to the coordinated terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, in 2008, to the Fort Hood shooting in 2009, the best lesson learned is to be prepared. While we hope that such active shooter events will never occur in our backyards, the ALERRT staff at Texas State has developed a new standard in active shooter response, and law enforcement professionals across the country are carrying this standard forward,” Nichols said.

Spencer Collier, Alabama Director of Homeland Security said, “As recent situations have demonstrated in Alabama, an active shooter is one of the most dangerous and most likely threats that law enforcement faces.  We want our police officers to have the training and skills necessary to confront this threat.  That is why the Alabama Department of Homeland Security has made the ALERRT training a priority.“

Since its establishment in 2002, ALERRT has trained more than 40,000 law enforcement and military personnel in active shooter response through more than $24 million in state and federal funding.

In addition to in-depth, after-action lessons learned through partnerships with agencies who have been involved in headline-making active shooter situations, ALERRT has engaged a criminal justice research professor to evaluate and enhance the overall understanding of active shooter events and assist in improving law enforcement best practices.