Mercyhurst PSI initiates training in 'active shooter response'

MU PSI Initiates Training
The wave of mass shootings across the U.S., most recently at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, has prompted the Mercyhurst University Public Safety Institute (PSI) to develop a program aimed at teaching individuals how to survive and lead others to safety in the event of an active shooter incident.

For years, the Mercyhurst Municipal Police Training Academy at North East, under the auspices of the PSI, has provided local organizations with “situational awareness” training where the emphasis is on personal safety. With mass shootings becoming more prevalent, the decision was made to ramp up that training for large groups, like universities, school districts, shopping centers, hospitals and other businesses.

“Instead of just providing guidelines on how to ensure one’s personal safety, say, for instance, leaving work and making sure your car is in a well-lit area or holding your purse a certain way or having someone accompany you to your car, we wanted to create situational awareness for active shooter and violent intruder incidents in heavily populated places,” said Bill Hale, director of the police academy.

Hale said members of his staff are still putting the finishing touches on the new training initiative and, as part of that process, have planned a trial run for today from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the academy’s offices in the Janet L. Miller Center for Growth and Academic Excellence, 5999 Station Road, North East. Several groups, including police, security staff and school district personnel have been invited to go through the process that will include classroom training and active shooter simulations.

Hale said he intends to fine-tune the program in the weeks ahead and also to send two academy instructors, Bill Wehrle and Jon McEnroe, to receive active shooter response training known as A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate), sponsored by the Lancaster/Lebanon Intermediate Unit #13, next month.

“Mercyhurst is the supplier of law enforcement training in the region,” Hale said. “We felt it was incumbent upon us to take the lead in helping our communities better plan and respond in the event of an active shooter incident.”

Hale said he anticipates having the training ready for group instruction in April. For more information, contact Hale at whale@mercyhurst.edu; phone, 814-725-6137.
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