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ACTIVE SHOOTER - 13-01192017153423

Baraboo Police Chief Mark Schauf fires a blank round in the school hallway. Schauf said the experience will familiarize teachers with the sound of real gunfire.

An event to prepare schools, places of worship, workplaces and other venues for dealing with an active shooter crisis has drawn so many participants that the Dane County Sheriff’s office had to turn people away.

The ALICE program, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate, has garnered a lot of attention in recent years for its focus on confronting an armed intruder. There have been reports of children as young as 7 being taught to throw objects at armed attackers, raising concerns from parents and some school safety experts. The program also teaches people to swarm attackers as a last resort.

A Capital Times story last year reported that several area school districts, including Waunakee, Middleton-Cross Plains, Sun Prairie and Baraboo, have adopted the program. But critics contend that the tactics could lead to casualties and cause anxiety among students exposed to the realistic training scenarios.

The Madison School District has not adopted the ALICE protocol.

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The training event, which costs $595 to attend, prepares school officials, officers and people from businesses and health facilities to train others at their workplaces.

The Dane County Sheriff’s office, which is hosting the two-day training session at its Waunakee training facility on Monday and Tuesday, capped the number of participants at 55.

Spokeswoman Elise Schaffer didn't immediately supply a list of participants, but she said they are coming from “all over the state” from private businesses, churches, schools and law enforcement agencies. 

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Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.