U.S. Senator John Cornyn visited the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response training at Texas State Wednesday morning to discuss the importance of readiness in active shooter situations.
Cornyn, along with Texas State Representative John Carter, authored a bill called the POLICE Act which enables local law enforcement and first responders to use federal grants for active shooter response training.
A roundtable discussion was held with Cornyn and a variety of officials from Central Texas law enforcement, emergency responders, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Texas State’s criminal justice program. The focus of the discussion was the progress the ALERRT program has made locally and nationally, and what the POLICE Act will do to further increase readability in active shooter situations.
Cornyn said it is vital for more people to be able to access this kind of training. He said his goal for his visit to the ALERRT center is to not talk, but to listen to the people who are in the field.
“The POLICE act is encouraging,” said Chief Chase Stapp, San Marcos Police Department. “We appreciate the support and we are fortunate to have this facility in our city.”
Assistant Chief Troy Gay, Austin Police Department said last Saturday when there was a potential active shooter situation on sixth street that law enforcement was prepared. He said APD is fortunate to have the ALERRT center in their backyard.
“ALERRT is really a national asset, not just a state asset,” said Christopher Combs, FBI Special Agent in Charge. “What began here in San Marcos has gone nation-wide. Frankly, it is second to none. ALERRT is the national standard.”
Following the roundtable discussion, attendees were asked to move to the back of the room in order for ALERRT to demonstrate an active shooter situation. All attendees were handed ear plugs in order to protect themselves from the high impact sound and were warned to stand back in case of fake blood splatter.
The demonstration simulated a hostile classroom situation in which an active shooter enters the classroom and fires, then is taken down by law enforcement.
John Curnutt, director of training for ALERRT, said security and medical attention are top priority during shootings.
During the press conference, Cornyn said the POLICE act, which stands for Protecting Our Lives through Initiating COPS Expansion, is about creating safer communities. He said his priority for the next session includes criminal justice reform and mental health care. Cornyn declined to comment on Donald Trump and the presidential election.
Gene Bourgeois, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said this is significant for Texas State University because it has become a nationwide program and has received a lot of national attention for its progress.
“We’ve extended training to more than 100,000 law enforcement professionals across the United States, so that brand is ALERRT, that brand is Texas State and that reputation for doing research and applying that research to improve training is something that people around the United States know about,” Bourgeois said.