MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's a frightening thought, being caught in the middle of an active shooter situation. With all that's going on in our country, sadly, officials say it's a possibility that can happen anywhere.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, or ALEA, is working to train every sworn officer in the state for an active shooter situation by using an indoor simulator funded through a Department of Homeland Security grant.
"They will be able to do what they have been trained to do, and that is to save lives," says Cpl. Michael Mosely.
The indoor simulator allows officers to react and respond in real-time. It's a video screen that surrounds the officer with the circumstances, sound effects, and the intensity of a situation unfolding. The simulator has several different scenarios, but the outcome of each one can change depending on the officer's behavior and response.
Mosely says although nothing can match a real life scenario, this technology creates a similar environment.
"It's going to make their heart rate go up, their stress level go up," claims Mosely. "They still have to make decisions on what they have to do depending on the scenario and the situation."
So far more than 10,000 officers have undergone the training. That's about 67 percent of officers in the state, with the goal being every single officer trained to quickly engage and neutralize the threat.
"I can stand here as a director and tell you we are ready," reassured Col. John Richardson, ALEA's public safety director. "The governor has said, himself, that he wants every sworn officer in the state to be trained for active shooter. That's what the citizens of this state deserve, and that's what they expect from their law enforcement."
On average it takes about 12 minutes for law enforcement to respond to an active shooter scene, which means everyone needs to be prepared, including every day citizens.
More than 18,000 residents have been trained through the ALEA program "Run, Hide, Fight." Experts say it teaches a simple methodology: "First, run – escape from the situation whenever possible. Then, hide from the shooter – take cover in a locked room or under a desk. If the other options are exhausted, then fight back," said Secretary of ALEA, Spencer Collier.
"Try to fight for your life and do whatever it takes to take care of the situation," said Hal Taylor, ALEA's chief of staff. "We want people to be prepared to take action should an incident occur."
ALEA offers the "Run, Hide, Fight" program free of charge. It's a 2 hour course, and you can register for it online at www.alea.gov.
Officers are encouraging residents, "If you see something, say something." They say they would much rather respond to nothing than to not respond and something happen.