By Sophie Foster
Washington College’s Public Safety department announced a new approach to their active shooter response training in an email sent to the campus community on Aug. 16.
According to the email, two Public Safety officers were certified over the summer as ALICE — alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate — instructors, and active-shooter-based training will be presented to the campus at various intervals throughout the semester and academic year.
The ALICE protocol is a “civilian active shooter response training delivered with a trauma-informed approach,” according to the program’s website. ALICE is designed to indicate several strategies groups or individuals can use to be vigilant when faced with a potential threat.
The training is a combination of scenario-based and classroom-centered model situations in which participants are taught what tools they can utilize should they find themselves facing an active threat, according to Director of Public Safety Pamela Hoffman.
“Unfortunately we live in a time that such a threat is possible. I firmly believe that knowledge is power, so equipping our students, staff, and faculty at WC with the training and tools provided by ALICE training is essential,” Hoffman said.
Though campus training sessions are not being offered yet, Hoffman says that an email containing schedules of training sessions open to any student or staff member will soon be sent out. According to Hoffman, her goal is to reach a majority of the campus with these trainings by the end of the academic year.
“Public Safety is able to be its most effective when our students, staff and faculty are empowered to act or speak up when something does not look or feel right. ALICE training is just one piece of the puzzle, but it’s an important piece,” Hoffman said.
The announcement of the new training protocol came a month after those on campus for summer programs were asked to evacuate William Smith Hall following false reports of gunshots.
According to sophomore Sky Abruzzo, who was interning on campus over the summer and was inside of Smith Hall at the time of the incident, “there wasn’t a whole lot of communication. No one really knew what was happening.”
Abruzzo said that it would be beneficial for officers and community members alike to be better trained and prepared for a future scenario such as this.
“Communication [is] really vital,” Abruzzo said, adding that most of the students and visitors present alike couldn’t differentiate the police from Public Safety officers from an active shooter.
According to Abruzzo, the fear would not have been so strong if someone had offered information to “make it less terrifying,” particularly since this incident was a false alarm and there were not gunshots anywhere on campus.
According to Hoffman, the conversation about bringing ALICE training to WC began last spring, but the lockdown over the summer “highlighted that the majority of [the] campus has not recently had ALICE training, so the timing of this opportunity is ideal.”
“I am looking forward to a great year at Washington College, welcoming the class of 2026 to campus, and celebrating the senior year of the class of 2023,” Hoffman said. “My officers and I are here to help the campus and assist when needed.”
Hoffman says that Public Safety will be providing a variety of training sessions at both daytime and evening hours.
Details regarding the training sessions will be shared with everyone on campus as the year progresses, so those interested should watch their emails for the coming updates from Public Safety. Inquiries can be made at the Public Safety office on the first floor of Cullen Hall, or by contacting Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.