University Police held Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, or ALERRT sessions, on campus to train and prepare officers from UPD, Nacogdoches, Lufkin and Corrigan Police Departments in case of an active attack situation.
“It’s one of the trainings they do nationally,” University Chief of Police John Fields said.
“It’s all over the country and out of the country, also. And what this does is, let’s say, if we have an active shooter on our SFA campus, if Nac police came there, we all can go in the same way. So the training that we’re going through is the same training everybody has. So if an incident happens at Walmart and I go in Walmart off-duty, if I meet up with another off-duty officer we should always be able to respond the same way.”
Since joining UPD last year, Fields wanted to do a refresher course for the officers, but a version of the training will be available to the rest of campus in February.
“When I first got here, my Assistant Chief Craig Goodman and I thought about it and talked about it and found out that the department hadn’t had an actual ALERRT training in a while,” Fields said.
“And so we decided to bring this to our campus. This is just for the police, but there is going to be training coming up for faculty, staff and students, and we’re going to do some training, I think the second week of February. We’re going to put on what’s called Emergency Management and Active Shooter, so it’s going to be two parts. We have a new Emergency Management Director, so he’s going to do some things with emergency management, and we’re going to have some other parts with active shooter. We’ll show a video, and we’ll probably do a couple during the day and we’re probably going to do a couple at night also so we can reach the student body.”
According to Nacogdoches Police Training Sergeant Keith Hawkins, The Deep East Texas Council of Government helped put on the training provided equipment, ammunition and instructors.
“We have instructors: myself, I’m a sergeant at Nacogdoches Police Department, and then we have three other instructors that are from Lufkin PD,” Hawkins said. “We all come here, free of charge, for any department that wants to train, and we put it on for them.”
Fields said the training should reassure students that UPD is as prepared as other police departments for emergencies and that being prepared is a priority. He emphasized that students, faculty and staff should not be afraid, but aware of the situation, not just at SFA but everywhere.
“We’re no longer in the time and day that we can say that it’s not going to happen here because if you get complacent, that’s when it happens,” Fields said. “Don’t worry. Live your life, but it can happen anywhere. We can say it’s not going to happen, but we saw Dayton, we saw El Paso, and we go on and on. Every year it’s something. There were some other shootings that haven’t made the media press. So things happen in the world every day, it just doesn’t make it to the media. So we don’t want you to be afraid, we want you to be able to understand what to do in case it does happen.”
In addition to the officer training and scheduled campus wide trainings in February, UPD hosted an hourlong presentation over civilian safety for CAs and hall directors, aimed at active attacker situations.
“It’s called CRASE, which is Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events,” Assistant Chief of Police Craig Goodman said.
“It’s designed to help people if they face a situation like that and what to do. There’s three things we teach them, it’s the acronym ADD. The A stands for ‘avoid the event,’ D stands for ‘deny them entry’ into whatever space they’re in, and if you can’t deny them entry, then you Defend yourself at all costs.”
According to Fields, SFA is currently ranked 69 out of 500 schools for safety but hopes to make it to the top 10.
“We’re not looking at the past. We’re looking at the future for what we can do to make this one of the safest campuses,” Fields said.