PTA, Hills police to host ALICE training session for parents

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published November 22, 2019

FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — Knowing how to protect yourself from an active assailant attack isn’t only for students in schools these days.

“These attacks, as history has proven, can happen anytime, anyplace,” said Mark Mostek, a Farmington Hills Police Department training officer and ALICE instructor. “You could be in a restaurant. You could be in a sports arena. You could be in an outdoor facility. When these attacks occur, the most important thing is having that plan with your family, your children and your loved ones to understand if (an attack) happens, these are the steps we should take.”

That’s why the Farmington Public Schools PTA and the Farmington Hills police have teamed up to host an ALICE training informational session for parents and people 18 or older 7-8:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Maxfield Education Center, 32789 W. 10 Mile Road.

ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.

Beth Hulett, the PTA council president for Farmington Public Schools, said safety is a primary area of focus for the PTA. They wanted to provide an opportunity, through this event, for the community to learn about not only what their children are being taught during school safety drills, but also how community members themselves can stay safe.

“It’s so important for parents to understand how the safety protocols (within schools) have changed, because then they can have those conversations with their children at home,” Hulett said. “The kids need to have a consistent message at school and at home, so if parents understand how it works and why they’re doing what they’re doing … they’ll know exactly what (their kids) are talking about, so there’s no confusion there.”

Hulett said it’s also important for parents to know the ALICE program because it gives them a set of skills “they can apply in many different situations they may find themselves in while out in the community.”

“The benefits go even further than our children in our schools,” she said.

Mostek, who will be instructing the session alongside Sgt. Michael Flatt, Detective Gary Lavin and Officer Brett Putman, said the session will start with a presentation that will cover the theory and understanding behind ALICE, how students are taught ALICE in school, and a history of mass shootings and active assailants in the United States — specifically looking at incidents like the Virginia Tech shooting.

A brief demonstration of how people — both the victims and the assailants — are affected mentally and physically during a dangerous situation, and how victims can work to break down an assailant’s attack, will follow. The session will conclude with breakout groups where attendees will work through active assailant scenarios and how they should respond in a crawl-walk-run format, where the scenarios become worse as groups proceed.

The primary goals of teaching ALICE training, Mostek said, are to show people they have options when confronted with a dangerous situation and to empower them to know how to react best to those situations. He said he’s seen countless people find that empowerment through ALICE training sessions.

“When you have (the participants) run through those scenarios, you really see the change in people’s perception and understanding. It comes from that sense of empowerment that they don’t have to be a victim. It gives them options,” he said.

Mostek said there’s a proven track record of ALICE working to reduce the damage caused by an active assailant attack. He cited the state of Ohio, which has trained every educational facility and government office in the ALICE program.

“When these incidents occur, and there have been incidents (in Ohio) that have occurred after receiving training, the level of injury and casualties sustained in those facilities, from knowing the program, has been severely reduced,” he said.

Currently, all city government, Department of Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and Farmington Public Schools staff — and several faith-based organizations — have been trained in the ALICE program. Mostek believes that, ultimately, the more people trained in the program, the safer the community can be.

“The biggest thing is, (ALICE) goes with you everywhere. It’s not just limited to schools, houses of worship or office buildings,” Mostek said. “This understanding and sense of empowerment that you can do something to save or mitigate the amount of injuries sustained is very important.”

For more information on ALICE, visit alicetraining.com.