ALICE - Security Action Plan

Close up of security officer shirt

For too many years the standard response to a violent incident has been to lock down and wait for the authorities to arrive. This leaves people hiding in rooms with no other response. It is time to change our actions.

After a shooting in Houston, the response evolved to ‘Run Hide Fight.’ A simple formula, but provides limited actions and is sequential. ALICE has provided more options. This method recommends preplanning multiple actions and practicing using various tools and resources to save as many as possible. The steps are not sequential but with education, training and practicing, the tools can be used to survive an active shooter incident. These are supported by the FBI’s ‘Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013.’ The FBI’s study also recommends multiple options.

ALICE was developed by a police officer for his wife, a school principal.

ALICE stands for:

  • Alert: Communication to law enforcement must be immediate, and in simple language, provide the nature of the emergency and location of the shooter. This type of clear communication is also needed for the occupants of the building. It is important to use the same alert system for someone with a knife as a gun.
  • Lockdown: Buildings should be secured as a matter of policy. A single entry point in the building should be mandatory. This allows staff to monitor who is coming in the building and delay or prevent entry of unauthorized individuals. This also means that secure areas, and methods of securing or limiting access to areas in the buildings should be established. An analysis of the shooting at Virginia Tech demonstrates the effectiveness of delaying or restricting access.
  • Inform: Using cameras and PA systems, ongoing reports should be provided to occupants and law enforcement on the location of the shooter. If a ‘safe’ room or control room is set up in advance, an assigned individual can provide this ongoing communication; including the police have arrived and are moving through ____ to ____. Use e-alerts to occupants if possible.
  • Confront: An analysis of shooting events show that occupants are usually the first responders. Occupants need to be trained on what is available to use as weapons against an intruder. This includes ordinary office or classroom equipment. Something as simple as wasp spray can distract or incapacitate a shooter.
  • Evacuate: If possible, this is the preferred answer to an active shooter. Removing people from harm’s way is the best way to save lives. Training and discussion are key elements to occupants finding multiple exit points and alternative ways to escape. Meeting points should be established to reassemble at after evacuation.

Practice, Practice, Practice! Practice makes occupants more familiar with multiple options.

Where do you start?

  • Work with local law enforcement to develop your plan. Talking points need to include:
    • Initial notification including what words to say.
    • Ongoing communication.
    • Secure areas to lock down.
    • Best evacuation routes and safe meeting places to reassemble.
    • Contingents for individuals with special needs.
  • Assess the security of the building and control points.
  • Protocol for the building visitors vs. occupants.
  • Identify communication devices available including cameras and monitoring.
  • Meetings with building occupants for their input and or special situations.
  • Assign roles to individuals.
  • Write the plan and distribute to all.
  • Most importantly, Practice, Practice, Practice! Fire deaths have been reduced because of fire drills. Practice makes occupants familiar with options.
  • The plan should be reviewed with all parties annually and revised as needed.

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