CHARLESTON -- The Eastern Illinois University Police Department is looking to expand active shooter training beyond the campus to those in the community.
University police equipped to train people through the ALICE program, an active shooter response training program, have been broadening the net of people on campus that are in some way ready for that kind of incident.
More recently, departments and groups in Klehm Hall got to run through the program.
As previously reported, this training’s importance was solidified for university law enforcement with events such as the shooting at Mattoon High School in September or the Sutherland Springs, Texas shooting leaving 25 people dead.
“Prior to Sept. 20, people always thought this was going to be somewhere else, but then on Sept. 20, Coles County became somewhere else,” UPD Chief Kent Martin said.
Now, he and others in the department have been looking at going further with the Charleston community in mind.
“This is important enough that we need to make it available to the public because it is not just school settings where this happens,” Martin said.
“The way the world is today, you just never know when or where something may happen and this program provides options for what you can do if you find yourself in that situation. We want to get the knowledge out to people who may not have it.”
These people include older generations of people that likely did not receive this education through drills when they were elementary and secondary education, said Melanie Burns, Family and Consumer Sciences department chair who went through the program recently. She said many of the staff and faculty are at those ages where different safety procedures were taught if at all.
“A lot of people still follow the lockdown mentality of turn off the lights, close the door and be quiet and maybe they won't find us,” Martin said.
This model of protection is obsolete and was not even geared to better prepare individuals for mass shootings like those in recent memory. Martin said this model was created for drive-by shootings and not necessarily threats within the building.
For Burns, the knowledge was invaluable and she wanted to take part in the program to rather be “safe than sorry.”
“If the unfortunate does happen, people will have some different ways to react,” Martin said. “You don't ever want to be exposed to it, obviously, but if you are exposed to it, you don't want that to be the first time any of this has gone through your mind.”
Currently, the details including dates and venues are in the works to have sessions for training, however, Martin said he was committed to move. UPD will be collaborating with the CPD on the project when it is fully in place.
Martin said there will likely be a registration-type system put in place to take part in these trainings. Martin said organizations across town have already inquired about getting this training.
Those looking for more information can call the department at 581-3213.