Active Shooter Training in Schools: What’s Going Wrong?

by | Apr 13, 2019 | Active Threat, Active Threat Training

In January 2019, an active shooter training exercise was conducted by a local sheriff’s office at an Indiana elementary school, which resulted in multiple teachers being shot with plastic pellets and ultimately being injured.

The Indiana State Teachers Association tweeted on March 20, “During active shooter drill, four teachers at a time were taken into a room, told to crouch down and were shot execution style with some sort of projectiles – resulting in injuries to the extent that welts appeared, and blood was drawn.”

Now, as these stories of “fear tactic” active shooter exercises come to light, many people are asking, “how real is too real?”

Learn more about the Indiana teacher incident, what went wrong and ultimately, how SaferSite is different when it comes to active shooter training.


The sheriff’s office that conducted the active shooter training used a multi-optional response training called ALICE: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

In an interview with Education Week, Kenneth Trump, president of National School and Safety Services, said, “A school shooting is a high-impact but low-probability occurrence,” he said. “We have to keep that balance. We have to keep common sense, and we have to keep reasonableness into not crossing that line and doing harm in your training.”

“ALICE, used by thousands of schools around the country, varies widely from place to place. It relies on a “train the trainer” model, in which ALICE Training Institute certified instructors who then carry out the drills and programs on the local level, often mixing in their own techniques and ideas,” Trump said.

Typically, the trainers coming into the school to provide active shooter training are local law enforcement who are not trained to teach educators or are employees of the school who also don’t have any professional background to teach active shooter training, other than this certification.

This type of training, done in a “fear tactic” way, can traumatize and disempower teachers, as well as facilitate injuries as the teachers try to run away from the drills, which leads to insurance payouts and litigation.

Insurance Payouts

ERM Insurance Companies has paid more than a quarter-million dollars for emergency room bills for Iowa school employees who experienced active shooter training and were injured. These costs do not include follow-up doctor visits, physical therapy, surgeries or lost work time.

Jerry Loghry, Loss and Prevention Education Manager at ERM, has advised his clients that a full-stimulation active shooter training exercise will be considered by underwriters, meaning premiums for these training exercises may increase.


In 2013, an Oregon teacher sued the school district, the school principal, members of the school board, Alpine Alarm Communications and Construction and Shawn Thatcher, the school’s safety supervisor. The Oregon teacher was seeking compensation for lost wages, medical costs and punitive damages because she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after Thatcher pointed a gun at her face and told her she was dead during an active shooter training.


Some districts settle on active shooter training done by trainers or local law enforcement who have gone through a “security training” seminar and received a certification but still aren’t equipped to teach educators. Should the well-being of your school and your students be placed in the hands of a seminar trainer or should it be placed with a team of security experts with years of experience in various security fields?

“I have 20 years of experience in education. The team at SaferSite has far more than that in law enforcement and security. I could send a teacher or administrator, who is qualified to teach, for security training. But, they aren’t going to be as qualified to communicate it to our staff or answer the questions as well as SaferSite was able to do. Truly, we are dealing with experts in the field of security and safety,” Arthur Moore, Principal of Saint Francis Central Catholic School, said.

Many states are requiring that their public schools go through active threat training. Recently, West Virginia’s governor, Jim Justice, announced that schools are required to implement a school safety program, which has specific requirements:

  • Room numbers have to be placed on exterior walls or windows of the school building so law enforcement or medics can identify the room from the outside
  • Floor plans of the school have to be provided to medics and local law enforcement
  • School staff and students have to be provided with first aid training
  • School staff and students have to be provided with active shooter training

Our instructors realize that this subject, active shooter training, can be frightening and can increase anxiety. That is why we pride ourselves in offering a progressive active threat training that is designed to educate and empower teachers and school staff to “know what to do” when faced with a number of personal safety and security threats, including an active shooter event.

Don’t settle for a “stimulated” approach to active shooter training. If you are ready to properly equip your school or organization with expert training, contact our team.  At SaferSite, we don’t train the experts, we are the experts. Our team is comprised of former law enforcement members, federal agents, military and Department of Defense instructors.

Put your school’s safety in the hands of the experts. Don’t just check the box.