Local law enforcement offering new training for active shooter situations

March 9, 2020
Accomack County Sheriff Todd Wessells, Scott Wade and Bobby Taylor

Pictured: Accomack County Sheriff Todd Wessells, Virginia State Police Special Agent Scott Wade and Accomack County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Bobby Taylor.


The Accomack County and Northampton County Sheriff’s Offices along with the Virginia State Police are now offering a new form of active shooter training for schools, businesses and organizations on the Eastern Shore.

It is an unfortunate reality we all must face in modern times. Deranged individuals feel the need to inflict the pain they are unable to handle on innocent people, often times before taking their own life.

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The Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate (ALICE) method is an updated version of the Run, Fight, Hide method that has been taught for several years.

The underlying principle of the ALICE training is to teach residents who find themselves in an active shooter situation to think and then deploy whatever means necessary to gain the control of their situation.

“This training aims to maximize your chances of survival until law enforcement can arrive,” said State Police Special Agent Scott Wade. “On average, it takes around five minutes for law enforcement to arrive, so people need to do whatever they need to do to protect themselves until that moment.”

Wade, along with Accomack County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Bobby Taylor were sent to ALICE training to bring back the methods to help the Eastern Shore.

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For years organizations have taught a passive response to active shooter situations. At the Columbine shooting in 1999, emergency dispatchers told the school officials to stay in the building and hide, which left many students as sitting ducks and most assuredly increased the death toll.

In the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, three classrooms were mainly targeted by the shooter. In the rooms where the students stayed in place and essentially tried to hide, 28 were fatally shot. In fact the shooter returned to one class room three separate times, and killed more each time he returned as he found victims hiding quietly under their desks in the unlocked room. In the rooms where students took a proactive approach, which was essentially to escape out a window, there were only two deaths.

“We want people to have options, not sitting there and waiting,” said Accomack County Sheriff Todd Wessells. “By the time law enforcement gets there, the situation is already over.”

The Sheriff’s Offices with the State Police are offering the ALICE training free of charge on the Eastern Shore. They are asking for churches and businesses to join together in larger groups to maximize the limited resources available. The training takes approximately four hours to complete.

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The Northampton County Sheriff’s Office has already conducted the training for the Northampton County government.

“How you train is how you’ll react,” added Lieutenant Taylor. “The victims at Columbine, Virginia Tech and many other places unfortunate enough to experience these mass shootings reacted how they were trained.”

For Accomack County residents, contact the Sheriff’s Office at 757-787-1131. In Northampton County, call the Northampton Sheriff’s Office at 757-678-0458.


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