The Department of Justice announced a new $8.7 million grant to provide active shooter training to emergency personnel across the country on Thursday.
The grant will be used by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University to train police as well as firefighters, EMS workers, and hospital personnel on how to properly coordinate a response to a mass-casualty attack. It will utilize lessons learned from some of the worst attacks in American history in order to teach first responders how to save lives in the future. DOJ said the grant will improve local response to such horrible attacks.
"Training for first responders to take swift and effective action in active shooting situations is critically important," Jesse Panuccio, principal deputy associate attorney general, said in a press release. "We can mitigate the loss of life in these horrific incidents by providing resources to better equip first responders and prepare community members, local law enforcement, and local government leaders."
The DOJ and Texas State University said the grant is urgently needed to fill the funding strain mass-casualty attacks put on the local agencies tasked with responding to them.
"The funding announced here today comes at a critical time for our country," Phil Keith, director of the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, said. "As the demands placed on our nation's first responders continue to grow with these violent mass-casualty incidents, I believe it is our responsibility to make sure they have the tools, resources, and training to properly respond to these attacks."
The funding "will allow ALERRT to provide the training needed to prepare police, fire, and EMS services across the country to save as many lives as possible when these horrific attacks occur," Dr. Pete Blair, executive director of the ALERRT Center at TSU, said.
The grant will provide in-person training for around 15,000 first responders. That's up from the 9,000 first responders trained by the program last year. The DOJ said the program has successfully trained around 130,000 first responders since it was created in 2002.
The DOJ said it would also be developing an online training program to teach civilians how best to respond to active shooter situations. The agency said they hope to reach tens of thousands of civilians with the online class.