Sunday, May 8, 2016
A.L.I.C.E. Training Part 2
Well, I did it, went through the training, though I opted out of the drills. We were assured there would be no guns; not real, fake, or otherwise. Instead of the "shooter" holding a gun, he had an air horn. Speaking of opting out, the officer presenting the material made no mention of opting out, not at first. We were told many times that the chances of an active shooter intruding into our schools were very low, much lower than an earthquake or various other disasters. So naturally, one wonders why we'd have such training at all. We were also told that during the drills, we were not to throw anything except the little squishy Nerf type balls that were supplied. Reassured we were perfectly safe, we were then told that we had to sign a waiver, which got passed around as we were sitting there listening to the presentation. (Which included an audio and video of a teacher at Columbine during the shooting.) I couldn't see everyone of course but as far as I could observe, no one flipped to the cover page to read about what they were signing, and everyone happily signed. I did read the cover page, which said that I wouldn't hold the district or the police, etc. responsible if something happened to me.
As the officer was winding down his presentation, he did say something about opting out. The disclaimer on the waiver form also had a bit about us having the choice to opt out. Out of all the people there (roughly a hundred people, I'm guessing) only three opted out. Myself, and two others from the same school where I am assigned.
As we were sitting there in the staff room, a woman from the district human resources department came in to debrief us. She was with us the whole time, explaining what the drills were about, which ones meant what, asked us questions about our building, what we would do, did we have any concerns, etc. We could hear the air horn and announcements over the speaker as we sat there.
I still hadn't received a clear answer on whether or not the training was mandatory. So I asked -- it is. In fact, this is how it plays out: via Homeland Security (aha! knew it) FEMA, then the Justice Department, trickling down to the Education Department, and finally on the state level, something called the School Safety Act was implemented. This included mandatory training school districts have to provide to staff. I think, from what the woman said, no money was provided for this training -- school districts were on their own for that. Many chose A.L.I.C.E. for this mandatory training, but there are other programs available. The point is, mandated anti-terror training comes down from Homeland Security.
Old school lock down procedures always bothered me. Turn off the lights, be quiet, lock the door, huddle against the walls away from the door, and hope for the best. Always seemed pretty hopeless to me.
I did like the A.L.I.C.E. focus on protecting oneself. Made sense. I have no issues with that.
The Shooter Comes
The debriefing was over, and the person from HR had to leave, as did my two co-workers. A drill was still going on, but I was assured it wouldn't affect me. I was to make my way back to the cafeteria, where everyone would soon reconvene. I didn't know my way around this particular school, not having been in the building before, so I wasn't sure how to get back to the cafeteria. An officer led me to the gym door, which was open. The cafeteria was on the other side of the gym, which was empty. As I was walking, an announcement came over the P.A. system: "Shooter in the gym." I heard the air horn. And this is what was both interesting and frightening: I actually felt fear. Somewhere in my head I knew all of this was fake -- hell, I could hear that stupid air horn after all -- but my entire body was in fear/flight/fight mode. I made it into the cafeteria, and my only thought was to get out of sight and grab hold of some objects to throw at the "shooter." He comes through the gym and up to the door, but I couldn't see him. After a few seconds he left.
This mechanism -- fear and response replacing the staged scenario -- is what is being manipulated by the powers that be.
It was clear the officers who put on the training were dedicated and sincere. It was helpful to learn strategies to protect yourself and others in these kinds of situations. Staff who were there had good intentions. On a practical, immediate level, this training was useful.
But on another level, there's a whole lot wrong with this. Training is fine, but so are other measures that would thwart acts of violence. Yet none of those are in place. It's left up to individual entities to implement these things. Such things cost money, which is not provided by the infrastructure that mandates such trainings and measures takes place. There is no cohesiveness and there is no funding. At the highest level, "they" know this very well, and "they" do not care. They are well aware most people are happy pawns (not reading the waiver, signing it without a thought) and play on the fact people very easily get carried away in the roles placed on them. "They" manipulate our reality, and most people -- all those happy pawns -- don't know it. Knowing that most citizens want to do the right thing (after all, who doesn't want to protect children?) "they" foist mandate after mandate, role after role, adjust our realities, play with our minds and emotions, and implement contradictory, endless loops of Kafka like scenarios that must be enforced.