Rep. Wheeler urges school leaders statewide to improve active shooter response training program

Rep. Keith Wheeler (left) discusses school safety with SD308 Superintendent John Sparlin and OHS Principal Mike Wayne.

SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Keith R. Wheeler joined Oswego School District 308 Superintendent John Sparlin and Oswego High School Principal Mike Wayne for an active shooter response drill at Oswego High School Thursday morning.  This was Oswego High School’s second active shooter lockdown drill and the fourth drill involved in locking down and responding to emergencies during this school year.

As part of the lockdown procedure, Oswego schools have implemented the nationally-recognized ALICE active shooter response training program. ALICE is the acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.

“I believe this type of response training is an important, non-controversial first step in securing our schools here in Illinois,” Representative Wheeler said. “The administration, staff, and students displayed a number of techniques and responses that will be vital to saving lives should an active shooter situation occur.  Continued collaboration between our school, government, and law enforcement leaders is an important component in protecting our children and I’m glad to see that is underway locally.” 

ALICE training is used within all 50 states at more than 4,200 schools nationwide and almost 4,000 law enforcement members have been trained in ALICE techniques.  To improve school security, it is vital that school leaders emphasize to their staff and students the importance of training and to regularly schedule the necessary drills to practice the response plans designed for their schools.  School officials working with local law enforcement professionals on a regular basis will improve communication and coordination in order for students and staff to be better prepared and protected. 

During his conversations with area officials, Representative Wheeler was particularly struck by a discussion with Sugar Grove Police Chief Patrick Rollins. “Collaboration between Law Enforcement and our community is essential,” Chief Rollins said. “Providing options along with training is the key to survival. We need to learn from past tragic violent intruder events that have occurred all over the world.  Implementing ALICE   strategies and techniques will empower your entire staff and everyone for an increased chance of survival.  The days of being a sitting target in a lock down mode needs to end!  Practicing ALICE techniques routinely needs to be part of one’s education.  Today, with ALICE, we all have safer, fluid options to mitigate unfortunate outcomes.”

Oswego Superintendent John Sparlin added, “Creating a learning atmosphere that is both welcoming and safe is our number one priority. The implementation of the enhanced ALICE protocols and strategies empowers staff and students to be able to make life saving decisions in a moment’s notice.  By providing the staff and students the appropriate training we are providing them with options that didn’t exist in the past.”

Representative Wheeler filed a resolution, HR 865, in Springfield on Friday which would encourage every school district in Illinois to examine their active shooter response training and to consider updating their existing approaches to follow more advanced approaches such as ALICE in collaboration with their local law enforcement partners.  A copy of the resolution can be found HERE.

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