ALICE: A new campus threat response system

Brian Sherman, Campus Events Reporter

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In light of events like the tragedy of Sandy Hook, and the shootings at Virginia Tech and Columbine, which preceded it, schools and communities across America are scrambling to find a solution to the violence that has entered into the academic system. Case Western Reserve University is no exception. CWRU Police has begun to implement a new system called ALICE.

ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate, is an initiative from the CWRU Police Department for faculty, staff, and students. The initiative aims to help the survivability of people on campus whenever a significant threat, such as a shooting, occurs. This method also will provide alternative options for students, faculty, and staff during the crucial moments before the police arrive at the situation.

“Our response is to engage the threat,” said corporal Paul Owens. “[This system] empowers the students, faculty, and staff.”

Owens is responsible for hosting classes that teach ALICE to the faculty, staff, and students at CWRU. His classes, which he started yesterday and plans to continue in the coming years, explain ALICE and put the attendees through several scenarios to explain the importance of the system and how to implement it.

Each aspect of ALICE is important to the members of the CWRU community. The Alert and Inform steps help to make everyone on campus aware of a threat, allowing them to respond. However, the other steps are of particular importance to the faculty, staff, and students: lockdown, counter, and evacuate.

Lockdown involves barricading doors with desks, chairs, and other heavy objects to block the entrance. As gunmen have historically simply followed the path of least resistance, any barricaded door that they encounter will likely result in them ignoring that room, saving the lives of the students and teachers inside.

Counter involves potential victims fighting back against their aggressors. Simply throwing anything at a gunman could be enough. This could potentially save lives by throwing off the gunman’s aim or allowing someone to restrain him or her.

Evacuate is a self-explanatory portion; students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to safely evacuate the immediate area to keep themselves out of the line of fire.

There has been some controversy about the concept of students and faculty “fighting back” against an armed gunman, but Owens still believes that ALICE is the most viable solution.

“This is a new approach to school shootings. It won’t prevent everything, but it will increase survivability and provide alternatives,” said Owens. “It is the best system. It’s better than just sitting there.”

Regardless of the controversy, the system has begun to be implemented nationwide, as police forces and schools feel the need for tighter security.

“This will help survival,” said CWRU police chief Arthur Hardee. “With ALICE, people will be confident and survival will go up.”