‘Victim mentality to survivor mentality’: MSU DPPS takes lead on AVI response trainings
July 26, 2022
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Active violence incidents are on the rise in the United States, which is why MSU Police and Public Safety is working now more than ever to make sure officers are prepared.
According to the FBI, there were 61 active shooter incidents in the United States in 2021. This number increased from 40 in 2020, and 30 in 2019. Capt. Matt Merony, who has worked for MSU DPPS for 26 years, oversees the department’s active violence response trainings.
“Shortly after Columbine, we realized the police response to these sorts of things had to change,” said Merony.
Merony has trained law enforcement personnel in active violence incident response since 2000. Recently, the tri-county area has adopted a nationally recognized program: the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, also known as ALERRT.
The ALERRT Level One training consists of a 16-hour course, including both classroom and scenario-based training. Beginning in October, Merony’s team is going to begin training all 600+ tri-county area officers on the program.
“There are two goals to ALERRT: stop the killing and stop the dying, and we’ve gotten really good at that. It’s really not much different from what we’ve been doing in this area for the past 20 years; it’s just now putting a national stamp on it,” said Merony.
Merony says it’s important that every law enforcement officer is trained on the same program so that there is consistency when an incident occurs.
“When an incident happens, it’s not just one agency that’s responding. Everybody is responding. You must have that baseline language that everybody can understand, so anybody that shows up is going to know exactly what to do, how they’re going to do it, and what tactics are going to be used,” said Merony.
In addition to officers being trained on ALERRT, MSU DPPS also hosts ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ trainings for members of the community. Capt. Dan Munford says the goal of this program is to help people prepare both physically and mentally.
“It’s just trying to get people in the mindset that it might happen. Oxford was way too close to home for many of us,” said Munford. “You read about these dangerous situations happening in other locations and it’s just kind of like, ‘Well, it’s not going to happen here,’ and then we do have one close to home. When people have that preparedness and that mindset, it makes a huge difference.”
“Run, Hide, Fight teaches you that there are options for you. You can absolutely do something rather than doing nothing,” said Merony.
Ultimately, Merony says the biggest takeaway for law enforcement is to respond as quickly as possible.
“It’s not up to somebody else. It’s up to you. I don’t care if you’re a single officer response or you’re four people going in that building. You must stop the killing,” said Merony.
For community members, Munford and Merony say the biggest thing you can do is be prepared.
“The more that you mentally rehearse, the more likely you’re going to be able to react,” said Munford.
“What I want you to do is walk away with a sense of awareness. I want to change the victim mentality into a survivor mentality,” said Merony.
If you are interested in receiving ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ training, you can fill out a request online.
While the likelihood of experiencing an active violence incident is rare, Michigan State University stands ready to respond. There are also numerous resources available on campus related to preventing an incident from occurring, including MSU’S Behavioral Threat and Assessment Team. If you witness anything that raises suspicion or concern about potential violence, you can fill out a referral form here. In emergency situations, you should still call 9-1-1.
In addition, Michigan State University Police and Public Safety can be contacted anytime for non-emergencies by calling 517-355-2221.
Dana Whyte, Spokesperson, MSU Police and Public Safety
Inspector Chris Rozman, Public Information Officer, MSU Police and Public Safety