Lawsuit Filed by School Employee Injured in ALICE training

ALICE Training Injury Lawsuit Filed by School Employee

I was recently notified that a city in Iowa has now been served with a civil action filed by a school employee who alleges being injured during an ALICE training session. I have no idea if the suit has validity or if it will be successful. I am aware that more than $300,000 in emergency room bills have already been paid out for emergency room medical care for Iowa school employees injured during options-based active shooter training programs. I have also been aware that at least one major school insurance carrier began sending all school system policies to underwriting if this type of training has been implemented in their district. A popular options-based training program in many parts of the country, ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.

Is ALICE Training Safe?

Regular readers of my blogs and our newsletter know that our analysts have reservations about a number of the options-based active shooter training programs. In January, I wrote a blog addressing some concerns about specific aspects of the ALICE approach http://safehavensinternational.org/alice-training-gets-canned/. I also wrote a feature article about additional concerns relating to ALICE and other options-based active shooter training programs in School Safety Monthly http://safehavensinternational.org/wp-content/uploads/School_Safety_Monthly-Jan_2015-Safe_Havens_Intl.pdf. I am not the only school security expert that has concerns about the various options-based active shooter training programs that have become popular since the Sandy Hook School shooting. I have spoken to a number of other school security experts who share these concerns. One school security consultant who is deeply concerned about ALICE is Kenneth Trump.

Though both of us have worked in the same field for many years, I had never met Ken until last month. Over the years, Ken and I have had some differences of opinion. Both of us are very passionate about our work and like many people have some strong feelings about our professional views.  There are also a number of areas where we share common concerns. The shift to options-based active shooter training programs that have still not been validated as safe or effective has been of concern to both Ken and I.

Ken has been recommending that that law enforcement and school officials should vet options-based active shooter training programs with their insurance carrier and legal counsel before implementing them. I think this is sound advice. Ken and I are both concerned that many school and law enforcement agencies will have difficulty defending at least some of these lawsuits.

Even Those with the of Best Intentions can be Litigated

I am also concerned that some instructors teach options-based active shooter programs without incorporation or obtaining liability insurance.   For example, I have met dedicated law enforcement officers who teach options-based active shooter training programs for schools while off-duty. These officers are typically highly motivated and are eager to help make our schools safer.  However, these officers can easily find themselves being named as an individual in litigation regardless of the types of school safety training they provide on a private basis. The cost of defending a civil action relating to even a seemingly minor training injury can be astounding.   The fact that more than 90% of all civil actions in America result in a settlement should also be considered by those who want to help others by providing private school security training without liability insurance and appropriate incorporation.

Seek Qualified Legal Advice

This civil action demonstrates how important it may be for school and law enforcement officials to carefully vet and to test any options-based active shooter training program before implementing it. The case also serves as a reminder of how important it can be to seek advice from a qualified attorney before providing school security training as a private individual. Based on this civil action, I concur with Mr. Trump’s advice to vet ALICE with legal counsel before implementing it.

Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.
Michael Dorn
About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.