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Concerns over shooter training at DeWitt

Posted at 2:01 PM, Dec 06, 2018

How far should schools go to help prepare kids for the possibility of an active shooter?

That debate is happening in DeWitt because of what's known as ALICE training.

The training includes police shooting at the students with Nerf gun blasters. That raised concerns with some people who reached out to us. But police, several parents and even students think it's necessary for the world we live in.

"It's kind of scary to think about it during the fact like 'oh my gosh this could really happen,'" said Ellecia Wolfe, DeWitt High School Junior.

Wolfe remembers the times when lockdown drills were just "hide and wait" for help.
Now officials said that's not always the best option, and neither is just telling kids what to do. Police said when someone hides they become a sitting duck and an easier target.

"And you retain what somebody tells you a lot of the times 10%. If you're actively, physically doing it you're going to remember and it's 90% of the time," said Cheif Dave DeKorte, DeWitt Township Fire Department.

The ALICE training stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate. It's used to play out certain safety options during an active violent incident.

Unfortunately, the training is now making its way into schools. Especially after the more than 300 mass shootings nationwide this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

"I think the more realistic it is, it's helping them face the reality of what could possibly happen in the most realistic way that they can. And still keeping everyone safe," said Karen Bekemeier, DeWitt High School parent.

News10 has heard concerns that the training might be too dramatic for students because police use Nerf gun blasters to simulate an active shooting. And actually firing at students.

"It can prepare us more for something that could happen but I don't know if it's super realistic. The Nerf guns are probably as realistic as it's going to get. It might be too much in some aspects I guess it depends on the person and how they look at it," said Wolfe.

The district provides support for all students.

"We have incorporated having counselors take part in the drill, to be there during the drill and also to be available after the drill. Sometimes a student may react because it is a simulation," said John Dieter, DeWitt Public Schools Superintendent.

The district does not force students to participate, a student can choose to sit out if they want to. However by sitting out but officials said they could be missing out on an important life lesson.

"And this is preparing your student your son or daughter for the rest of their life. And I'm sorry to say this is what we are living in now, you have to be on your game all the time whether you're at the mall, at the movie theatre or a bank. We are having shootings everywhere. If you don't want to limit your child to this training, that is your right but I think you are provided a hindrance to their survivability if something happens," said DeKorte.

Schools are required to have three lockdown drills a year. DeWitt lets parents know after the drill is finished. Letting them know after is a safety precaution to prevent someone from using a scheduled drill to pull off an actual shooting.