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Cornyn Legislation Frees Up Federal Funds For Active Shooter Training

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AARON SCHRANK/TPR
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Police officers and first responders conduct a live active shooter simulation, to highlight the training provided at the ALERRT Center in San Marcos

Simulated rifle rounds echo out as police officers storm a room, take down a gunman, and then turn their attention to the actors sprawled on the floor, covered in fake blood.

This is an active shooter simulation at Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center—or ALERRT—in San Marcos. U.S. Senator from Texas John Cornyn is seated in the front row, observing the scene.

“The need for this sort of training has gotten even greater,” Cornyn says.

Legislation called the POLICE Act, proposed by Cornyn and signed by President Obama last month, will allow more first responders around the country to prepare for the worst.

The bill does not authorize any new spending, but says that federal grant money typically used to help agencies hire community-oriented officers through a program called COPS can now be used to pay for trainings like this one provided by the ALERRT Center.

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Cornyn touts the passage of the POLICE Act at Texas State's ALERRT Center near San Marcos.

“At a time when our politics have become way too polarized and we don’t get anything done, this is a small thing, but I think an important thing that we have gotten done that’s now been signed into law,” Cornyn says.

ALERRT has been around since 2002 and has become the gold standard for this kind of training. It’s used by the FBI and by agencies as far away as Guam and Australia.

Captain Shawn Ury says the San Antonio Police Department has given every officer a chance to go through this training, and many of his SWAT officers are adjunct instructors in programs at the facility.

But the change in law could allow the San Antonio Fire Department to get the same training, so that agencies can better work together to save lives.

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“We’ve recognized the need for Fire to be part of this equation on these scenes,” says Ury. “Because if we can stop the shooting, we still have to save the lives of those who have been injured.”

The bill will also allow departments to use the funding to train civilians on how to handle active shooters.