Canton school officials like the concept, but hate the name of new protocols for responding to emergencies, including school shootings.
Canton Police Chief Kenneth N. Berkowitz gave a presentation of ALICE, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate, at a School Committee meeting Tuesday night. The program was developed by Greg and Lisa Crane of Texas, a law enforcement instructor and a retired educator, respectively, who also attended Tuesday’s meeting.
The Cranes started the program to expand student and staff training to respond to a school shooting or intruder situation, Greg Crane said at the meeting.
“I was one of the folks that was supposed to get there in time; Columbine was a wake up call that we couldn’t do that,” he said.
Berkowitz said that Canton police protocols already account for the “alert” and “lockdown” portions of ALICE, but that the rest of the program represented a more active response by schools.
“Recent events speak for themselves,” Berkowitz said, referring to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., along with a host of other recent shootings. “Our world is getting less safe, not more safe.”
What had proven the most controversial piece of the new protocol in past discussions was the “counter” element, which encourages students and staff to blockade doors, throw items at an attacker or otherwise respond to an intruder.
Detective Chip Yeaton, Canton’s school resource officer, said that a counter would be a student or staff member’s last resort.
Following the presentation, parents and School Committee members expressed support for the enhanced protocols. No formal vote was taken, but committee members closed the meeting with the understanding that the protocols would move forward.
The major problem indicated was the name, with committee members feeling that the “C” for counter should come last, and that the word “Alice” was not an appropriate word to describe the program.
“We need to be careful about the language we use as this moves forward,” said School Committee member Robert W. Golledge Jr. “The acronym becomes a distraction.”