The training program, known as Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, will be added to the schedules of the state police academies. It already is used in a number of other states.
The program is designed to teach first responders how to isolate, distract and subdue active shooters said Greg Hardy, chief of staff for the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission, the agency that certifies police officers in the state.
According to Hardy, the new program will be offered in both Alabama’s basic training and lateral-entry courses. The basic course is designed to turn newcomers into certified police officers. The lateral-entry course is for certified officers who have left police work for more than two years, or haven’t kept up with their required 12 hours of training per year, said Anniston police Lt. Nicholas Bowles.
Hardy said the program has been offered in Alabama for a number of years, but this is the first time it’s been included in the state academy curriculum.
“We periodically review the curriculum and see what needs to be adjusted,” Hardy said. “We base it on national trends and what we’ve seen to open it up and get officers some better training.”
A website for the program shows it has been adopted by several states as their standard active-shooter training. It was created in 2002 to teach officers how to handle incidents such as school shootings. First responders to a shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 credited their response to the program, the website says.
Anniston police Chief Shane Denham said that in the past his department has had to train new hires on its own how to deal with active shooters. He said adding the training to the state curriculum will be a benefit.
“We build on the baseline they get in the academy,” he said. “The more training they get, the better off we are.”
To accommodate the new requirements, the basic training course will last 13 weeks instead of 12, and its hours will increase to 520 from 480. The lateral-entry hours will increase from 80 to 95.
Bowles, who oversees training for Anniston police, said the state training commission made it so all existing officers in the state were also required to have active-shooter training in 2012.
“Every police officer in the state has had the exact same training,” he said.
Greg Glaze, director of the Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy, told The Star that the new curriculum will also teach officers how to use different types of rifles.
“Many departments have gone to patrol rifles to keep up with the bad guys,” Glaze said. “Before, it was just handgun and shotgun.”
Asked about the length of the new curriculums, Glaze said the more training officers have, the better off they will be.
“Any time we can keep officers in training, the more prepared they’re going to be,” he said.
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.