Many school resource officers (SRO) have yet to undergo active shooter training more than one year after the mass shooting at Uvalde Elementary School, according to the expert assigned to oversee the training.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Gov. Greg Abbott instituted several state taxpayer-funded measures to better secure public schools from mass shootings in the wake of Uvalde, which occurred May 24, 2022. One such effort was to urge school administrators and SROs to complete active shooter training from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) program at Texas State University in San Marcos.
The ALERRT program is hailed as the country’s premier active shooter program. It sends trainers and equipment to police agencies across the United States, enabling them to practice tactics to better respond to active shooter scenarios based on research from real-life events.
However, several public school systems in North Texas have yet to see all their SROs complete the training because of officer shortages.
“That’s one of the major delays we’re seeing, is that if you’re having trouble just covering your normal shifts, it’s hard then to free people up to go to training,” said ALERRT’s executive director, Pete Blair, speaking with NBC 5 DFW.
Such shortages currently affect Dallas ISD, the biggest school district in North Texas, where a school shooting occurred just two months ago.
At a recent district school board meeting, trustees considered entering into a $10 million contract with potential vendors to provide unarmed security services for DISD’s numerous non-campus buildings, frequently targeted by criminals in car burglaries and thefts of building supplies.
“It’s just very challenging right now … in the profession to hire additional officers, to find qualified people that are willing to do the job,” DISD Police Chief John Lawton told the trustees.
That sentiment was echoed elsewhere in North Texas.
“The challenges that we face, one is staffing,” SRO Sgt. Scott Vickers of Arlington’s School Resource Unit told NBC 5, explaining why all of his colleagues have yet to go through the training.
“We have to keep officers there, I mean we have to be available in case anything happens, to be a presence on the campus,” Vickers said.
The news outlet also reported that in addition to Arlington, Crowley, Duncanville, Forney, and Wiley have yet to see all their SROs undergo ALERRT training.
As The Dallas Express has reported, recent school shootings have revived suggestions from some camps, including U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, that placing armed security in schools is the most effective way to safeguard against further incidents.