Spartanburg Community College Hosts "ALICE" Active Shooter Training

Article by: Joanna Johnson | Spartanburg Herald Journal

View article on GoUpstate.com

Steve Sipe knows how crucial medical training is for law enforcement officers dealing with active shooter situations.

Sipe, who works in security at Spartanburg Medical Center, was a Greenville police officer until he was shot in a standoff in May 1989. He has since retired from the police department and was receiving medical training as part of active shooter training for law enforcement officers on Thursday, July 14, at Pine Street Elementary School.

 "Run and don't try to go toward the gunfire. Take cover and let us do what we need to do," Sipe said. "In 1989, I was shot in the head. This training means a whole lot to me."

Only law enforcement officers were allowed to participate in the police department's training from July 11-14, but the Spartanburg Community College's active shooting training is open to the public but a fee is required.

Spartanburg Community College is holding Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate (ALICE) Instructor Certification Training July 18-19. ALICE is a program that trains people on how to respond to violent critical incidents.

These training programs have become more common due to the recent wave of mass shootings.

Spartanburg Community College sets safety as a goal

The attendees of the ALICE certification course will be able to go to their companies and lead staff through scenarios. The college also plans to train its faculty and students for scenarios and how to properly take action.

"I take safety seriously, it's my priority," Spartanburg Community College Police Chief Kevin Powers said. "I knew the program was well known, and it's not just a program that teaches classroom. I wanted something more hands-on and this program does exactly that."

Spartanburg Police adjust to changes in protocol

Spartanburg Police Major Art Littlejohn said that since the April 1999 Columbine massacre, the protocol during a mass shooting was to wait for a SWAT team. Now officers are being trained to take immediate action because every moment is crucial to saving lives. 

"Times continue to change because we learn from other events," Littlejohn said. "When we used to do it, many years in the past, we would wait for a SWAT team that would take 45 minutes. Now, we enter the building immediately because we don’t have time to waste. Whoever the first officer is on the scene, they will make entry."

On Thursday, July 14, members of the Spartanburg Police Department and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System were training on how to properly care for wounded gunshot victims.

"We eliminate the threat and then focus on saving lives," Spartanburg Police officer Nicholas Vaughn said. "If the threat is not eliminated, then we won't be able to save lives."

Keeping people safe during active shooter situations

Spartanburg School District 7 resource officers also participated in the police department's active shooter training at Pine Street Elementary School.

"They [the school] use to have a hiding place protocol and now you should get away from the situation," said Sean Bibler, a resource officer for the Spartanburg School District 6.  "Try to be a good witness to notice things that may help law enforcement out. Give a good description of what was going on, what he looked like and the movements he made."

Pine Street Elementary School Principal Dennis Regnier, said being aware can also make a difference in making people feel safe.

"Knowing what areas are a weak point in our schools and how we can address those really help us stay on the same page and how to protect our students," Regnier said. " We do intruder drills and evacuation drills twice a year. We've had members of SWAT, the county and the city here to help and observe us. It helps to communicate to our kids about how to stay safe and not be scared."

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