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During a Mountain Home Rotary Club meeting last Thursday, Sergeant Lacy Holland of the Mountain Home Police Department (MHPD) delivered an overview of a specialized training course offered to local businesses called CRASE on how to better prepare for an active shooter incident.
CRASE, pronounced craze, stands for Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events. The class boasts proven strategies, guidance, and plans for surviving an active shooter event.
“We talk about the psychology behind why people who are involved in these incidents lay down and die. Ultimately, it’s not because of anything other than their brain is not allowing them to take any action whatsoever,” said Holland.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2017 there were 31 active shooter incidents across the United States. In 2021, that number nearly doubled to 61 incidents.
Thirty-two of the 61 incidents occurred in areas of commerce with a majority of those events happening in business environments open to pedestrian traffic.
CRASE training discusses topics like social proofing, goes over active shooter case studies such as the one that occurred at Virginia Tech, holds scenario-based group question and answer sessions, and finally introduces “Avoid, Deny, Defend”.
Avoid, Deny, Defend has been developed as an easy to remember method for individuals to follow to empower each person to save their life and potentially others. The method is designed to arm individuals the know-how of actions to take all the way up to when police arrive on the scene.
Avoid the attacker. Deny the attacker access to your area. Defend yourself. Each point can be explained in more detail in the video below.
“I have a lot of people that [say], ‘well, I’m going to go in there and kill the bad guy’, this class is not to teach anybody to walk in to be the hero,” said Holland.
Upcoming CRASE training will occur on November 2 and 3 in the evening at the Mountain Home Police Department. The training is free to the public, however, there is limited seating and RSVP is required.
The class is about an hour and 45 minutes long.
Standard of Police Training
Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) is the national standard on how police respond to active shooter events. ALERRT was created by a group of veteran SWAT officers in Houston, Texas.
More than 146,000 first responders across the nation have been trained in ALERRT operations and tactics. In March of 2013, the FBI announced that the ALERRT Center is the national standard through which they are training all their agents. Most of these courses are delivered at no cost to the officers or agencies participating, through state and federal funding.
Each summer, ALERRT is mandatory training for Mountain Home’s police officers.
Securing schools in Mountain Home
MHPD currently boasts a six-member team of Student Resource Officers (SROs) throughout Mountain Home Public Schools (MHPS) with a seventh member already in the works, making Mountain Home one of the biggest divisions in Arkansas. Each SRO is a certified police officer with additional certified and upgraded training.
One of those SROs is Sgt. Holland herself. Holland has been with the department for 15 years and is the SRO at Mountain Home Junior High School. Six of those years have been spent in the trenches of the junior high, spending time with thousands of 13 and 14-year-old students throughout the years.
“I get my hair dyed a whole lot,” Holland joked.
The SRO program began in 1998 with only one officer at Mountain Home High School. About 18 years ago, that number picked up to three SROs until 2018 after the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Miami suburban town of Parkland, Florida where 14 students and three staff members were murdered, injuring 17 others.
The City of Mountain Home and MHPS came together after that incident to fund two additional SROs for a total team of five. A few years later in 2021, a sixth officer was added to cover the only remaining Mountain Home school without an SRO.
“We have to handle kids with velvet gloves,” explained Holland, alluding to the challenges that individual children may face both at school and at home. “Kids are allowed to mess up, that’s totally okay. We try to treat that as such and kind of mold them into being productive young adults.”
SROs provide building and property security and best practice recommendations regarding safety. They also provide education in both the classrooms to students and to MHPS staff members on a variety of topics.
Holland noted that the existing Mountain Home High School is the most challenging to secure because there are 31 exterior doors and the campus itself is a “hodgepodge”.
The expectation in Mountain Home Public Schools is for all exterior doors to remain locked.
“The other expectation is–and this is prior to Uvalde–when kids are in a classroom, the door is shut and locked, no exceptions,” said Holland. “When it comes to kids, we’ve got to be a step above the rest.”
To reserve a seat for the upcoming CRASE training, contact Sgt. Lacy Holland at 870-701-1233 or 870-425-6336 or via email at [email protected].