City Hall employees train for armed intruder situation


CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Police officers are starting to train Cranston city employees and the City Council on the best ways to react if an armed person storms into City Hall or any other city facility.

One of several training sessions was held Friday morning at the city council chambers, with officers taking employees through the history of armed intruder situations and methods easy to remember in a crisis.

Previous training and conventional wisdom in American culture has pushed the strategy of “run, hide, then fight.” Friday’s training built upon that, detailing an acronym called ALICE: alert, lockdown, inform, counter, then evacuate — though officers recommended you should try to evacuate first.

Employees were also given a physical practice, with an officer portraying an attacker, armed with a gun — for this practice, it shot little plastic discs — and employees doing a dry run of hiding and fleeing, and getting suggestions and pointers for the best choices to make when seconds count.

All city departments are being invited to take part in the sessions. Mayor Allan Fung was among those in Friday’s training; he said it’s similar to training that has been given to school employees and students. With multiple recent attacks on “soft” targets, he said, the city wanted to offer the training to more employees to increase the feeling of safety — “if, God forbid, anything happens, one day.”

The presentation cited FBI crime data: 43 percent of the time, the crime is over before police arrive. Active shooter incidents also often occur in small- and medium-sized communities where police departments have smaller staffs.

“We just want to make sure that all of our employees and all the public are safe, we know what to do, how we can protect, and make sure we have a safe environment to the best extent possible,” Fung said.

Cranston Police Lt. James Jennings led the training and has trained some 10,000 people in the Cranston School District over the past five years. “We decided that lockdown alone was not enough,” he said. The ALICE program empowers participants into being pro-active when presented with a crisis.

If you encounter a situation, Lt. Jennings recommended tips like environmental or situational awareness, keeping your head up and watching for your best possible escape, and observing how people are behaving.

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