New ALICE training aims to increase safety in JCPS


Savanna Vest

Through video and practical training across the district, JCPS is initiating ALICE, a new active shooter response method, to replace the preexisting Shelter-In-Place protocol. 

ALICE is an acronym standing for the general guidelines that the system recommends students and faculty to take when an active shooter enters the school campus or building: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. The method consists primarily of evacuating parts of a building where the threat is not present or barricading and preparing to “counter” offensively in parts of the building where the attacker is.

The previous Shelter-In-Place protocol would require students to stay on campus by hiding and waiting within their classrooms until police would be able to subdue the particular threat to the school’s safety.

YPAS and Manual Assistant Principals Bryan Crady and Greg Kuhn went to the school district’s ALICE training for administrators. Crady has been responsible in transferring that training to Manual students and staff.

“At the training, which was conducted by JCPS personnel, we were shown how there’s a new protocol for intruders that comes from studying statistics from active shooter events,” Kuhn said. “And the statistics show that the best chance of having the fewest number of casualties is not to lock doors and shelter-in-place; it’s to get out by any means possible.”

“The old lockdown, as far as if we had an intruder, basically says that everyone is a sitting duck,” Crady said. “We would lockdown, close a door, and hope that nobody comes in. The new protocol is based on being informed. If you have the right information, then you know how to avoid that person.”

“I like the ALICE system because it makes more sense. It is a result of things we discussed and improves the way that we deal with active threat situations,” Principal Jerry Mayes said.

Several teachers said that the ALICE system would provide much more flexibility in threatening situations and that as a result, it would be suitable for such unpredictable events.

“ALICE is complicated, I think, because it’s dealing with a very rare and high-stress situation where you have to act very quickly, and there could easily be a win-win situation or a lose-lose situation,” Jordan Elliott (Social Studies) said. “It’s just something you can’t predict, so I think initially ALICE is good because it’s making us aware of that and allowing us as teachers to be more flexible in those situations.”

“Any time there’s going to be a change to an institutionalized format, there are going to be people who worry, disagree, complain or say ‘it’s better to stick with what we’ve always done,’ but in a case like [a school threat] that’s subject to change and can be updated, I think it’s wise to get as many people as possible out of the area instead of being contained,” Amy Ritchie (English) said.

The Manual administration showed students a training video about ALICE on Thursday, Jan. 12, during homeroom.

Some students have experienced legitimate lockdowns during their careers as JCPS students, and most of them tend to agree that the new ALICE system would be a much better improvement.

“When I was in fourth grade, we went on a lockdown, and we were hidden in a cupboard or book closet for five hours,” Jacob Schagene (11, MST) said. “I feel that if teachers could legally take us somewhere else instead of the school building, it would be a lot better.”

“Being in a lockdown is terrifying enough, but to just sit in a dark, silent room, the fear just builds in the silence, and I think it would be a lot better if we were allowed to run away,” Saralee Renick (11, HSU) said.

Crady said that students and staff will do a practice run of the ALICE system during one of Manual’s regularly scheduled safety-drill days. He said the practice may include both barricading doors and evacuation.