San Diego State University hosted a two-day shooting survival seminar last week to prepare school officials for the possibility of having to handle mass shootings on campus. Officials from school districts and universities in San Diego County, Los Angeles and Bakersfield attended the event at SDSU from Jan. 8 to Jan. 9.
UCSD was among the number of Southern California schools participating in the conference, led by representatives from the Response Options Corporation, a group specializing in active shooter and intruder response strategies.
Response Options personnel trained officials in attendance in the ALICE program, which prescribes a more proactive approach to lockdown scenarios and puts a stronger emphasis on evacuation. The seminar ended with participants’ responses to a simulated gunman proceeding through an SDSU dormitory.
“In a lockdown, you are taught to sit on the floor under your desks in the case of an active shooter engagement, but that doesn’t help you to survive if the gunman is in the room with you,” Sgt. Doug O’Dell of the UCSD Police Department said. “The ALICE program teaches people how to swarm or cause distractions by throwing things and gives you some sort of an idea of what to do to help you survive in that situation.”
The seminar was planned months before the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in which 20 students and six adults were killed by a gunman. In light of the attack, last Tuesday, Jan. 8, the San Diego Unified School District ordered the review of plans at all campuses to evaluate readiness and report on potential improvements.
O’Dell said that UCSD’s police unit has six gun violence procedure instructors on staff and at least one more that works for the Office of Continuity and Emergency Services, and the Department has held trainings similar to the SDSU seminar in the past.
“[The ALICE program] is something that goes beyond just simple lockdown,” he said. “I agree with itThere needs to be something other than lockdown, but not enough if the shooter gets in the room with you.”