Newtown, Connecticut; Parkland, Florida; and more recently Uvalde, Texas.
These cities may ring a bell, as they have made headlines for deadly mass school shootings over the past decade.
Survivors of the Uvalde school shooting returned to school last week, so Fox News wanted to better understand the training law enforcement goes through for these types of scenarios.
Multimedia journalist Ashley Soriano experienced an active school shooting simulation at Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response (ALERT) center.
It was created in 2002 to use research-based training in active fire scenarios, including schools.
Every police department within 100 miles of the Maxwell, Texas facility has come to practice at the facility at some point.
They use equipment such as fake ammunition and inert guns, radios, ear defenders, tourniquets and more.
“Our primary goal is to get [the shooter] secured as best we can, get the gun away from him,” said Sam Stock, regional manager for the center in Texas.
First responders learn to prioritize what is important first, second and so on.
“The first thing you need to do is stop the slaughter,” said executive director Dr Pete Blair. “That is to say, if you hear gunshots, you can see that people are being attacked. It is a question of stopping this attacker as quickly as possible so that he does not cause any more victims.
He says the 1999 Columbine, Colorado school shooting sparked a need for this kind of specialized training.
The center teaches first responders how to enter a locked or hard-to-reach building, handle firearms, take down a gunman safely but quickly, treat wounds and more.
“If you look at extremely violent events like an active shooting event, most police officers would go through their entire career and never shoot anyone,” Dr Blair said. “You need to have specialized training if you want to react successfully when something happens.”
Another big push in training expansion came after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
“If we get as close to reality as possible, then when you encounter reality, it’s less new, it’s less different, and it’s less shocking to your body, your system, and your brain, so you’re able to perform better,” said Dr. Blair.
The center has expanded its training to include firefighters and EMS first responders. Since its inception, it has trained more than 248,000 people in all 50 states.
In addition, approximately 900,000 civilians have been trained through the center’s Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) outreach program.
Police departments across the country have stepped up their training, with simulations this summer in places like Fort Smith, Arkansas; Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding metropolitan cities; and Georgetown Kentucky, to name a few.
Some police departments have begun training school personnel, such as Fort Worth, Texas.
The Fort Worth Police Department confirmed to Fox News that it has provided free training to more than 500 teachers in North Texas and continues to partner with local school districts.
In Las Vegas, the Metro Police Department confirmed that its Multi-Assault Terrorism Capability Section received training at the ALERRT Center at some point.
LVMPD told Fox News that it regularly consults with outside training agencies to “ensure our curriculum meets best practices,” although they don’t specifically instruct ALERRT.
In March 2013, the FBI announced that the ALERRT center was the national standard and trained all of its agents, according to the center’s website. Some major cities such as New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta train their first responders in ALERRT tactics and standards.
The center campus has various stations, including a firing range, staged simulation sets like classrooms and apartments, and various types of gates to practice breaching.
The doors are specific to each type of break-in and the tools needed: levers, rams, guns or explosives.
“The number one rule of violation is always to try the grip. You’ll be surprised how often people don’t, and you’ll realize, “Oh, it was never locked,” Dr. Blair said.
Nearly 400 officers from different agencies responded to Uvalde’s mass shooting, but it took over an hour to bring down the shooter.
The ALERRT Center has published its own investigation into the police response, finding errors inconsistent with their “Stop Killing and Stop Dying” teaching.
According to the July 6 report, ALERRT staff made an “intrusive” breach of a series of tests at Robb Elementary School during their investigation.
It took three to four seconds to open the door using a Stanley Fatt Maxx and hammer, although the report acknowledges in a true active fire event, it would be dangerous for officers to do so without a ballistic shield.
The report also suggested other breaking methods, such as using a 12-gauge shotgun.
Law enforcement best practices are constantly changing, Dr. Blair said, and unfortunately “we think we’re going to see more of these happening over time.”