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October 11, 2013

A.L.I.C.E. promotes safety to city school administrators

Cullman city principals met with a Cullman City Police sergeant as he shared about the importance of alertness, lock-down tactics, staying informed, the ability to counter attack and school evacuation plans in a potential active shooter situations.

Public and private city schools were all represented at the Cullman City Board of Education at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday as Cullman city police Sergeant Jason Mickle led the educators through the A.L.I.C.E. Program, and opened the floor for questions and commentary.

“We all have the same goal in mind, the safety of the kids, teachers and anyone in the school,” Mickle said. “Law enforcement has a different approach versus what the teachers might do, and we all have different responsibilities if something like this happens. So working together- our mission is to go in and stop the shooter. The biggest thing that the school can do is planning far ahead of time and having the training in place so that if something terrible does happen, we will have a response, everyone will be on the same page and everyone has options.”

The A.L.I.C.E  Program, (Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate), was created by Greg Cane in Texas in response to the 1999 Columbine School shooting and has spread to more than 300 school systems nationwide, Mickle said.

“He has a company called Response Options and this is one of the programs they offer,” Mickle said.  “Auburn University uses it, as well as many other well-known schools and campuses. We did some research when we found out about the program. Then I went to the class and brought it back to our folks locally. By being proactive with our response instead of being reactive, there’s a better chance of survival. Thinking about things ahead of time, whether it be different scenarios and how you would respond to them, prepares you mentally and physically ahead of time.”

Among the Cullman city schools represented was Cullman Primary school Principal Tricia Culpepper who said these types of programs are an asset for teachers and administrators.

“Anytime we can get more information on how we can keep our children and teachers safe while they are in school, that is wonderful,” Culpepper said. “I appreciate the support that the police department and the city is providing by partnering with us to come up with a good plan.”

During the class, Mickle mentioned the difference between high school students versus elementary school students when it comes to understanding the purpose of this program and others like it.

“There’s going to be a different level of awareness for each age as we go through the process,” Culpepper said. “I think practice and being aware of our surroundings and the things we can put into place prior is the key factor, but hopefully we never have such an event to occur.”

Mickle said they have received a lot of positive responses about the overall idea and will plan to have an instructor in Cullman in early December to teach the A.L.I.C.E. Program to any educators who are interested in it.

“Any of the personnel in the schools who want to go through it, can,” Mickle said. “We will have some local law enforcement going through the class as well. We will assist in any way we can by getting this implemented into the schools.”

For more information on the program, contact the Cullman City Police Department at 256-734-1434.

Lauren Estes can be reached at laurene@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.

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