San Marcos — The idea to put members of the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard through training geared to first-responding police officers wasn’t one of the initial efforts of Texas State University’s ALERRT (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training) center.
But as more and more Texas peace officers underwent the free training on how to take control of situations like the Columbine High School massacre or the more recent shootings at Virginia Tech University, those who were also members of the Guard made the connection. Whether they faced campus violence, restoring order after a natural disaster or conducting door-to-door searches in Afghanistan or Iraq, “active shooter” training, they reasoned, was a useful tool.
“They asked for it,” ALERRT Director Don Montague said of those officers also serving in the Guard at a press conference Tuesday, one day before the first Guard training session was scheduled to start.
Officials including Congressman Lloyd Doggett were onhand to announce nearly $3 million in funding for ALERRT the bulk of which — $1.6 million — will go into training the Guard.
“ALERRT is a unique Central Texas resource,” Doggett said, that is “becoming a resource for the entire country.” With the new money, he said, ALERRT can provide “training that has already served to protect students and teachers here will now go used to assist our Guardsmen serving around the globe.”
The remainder of the funding is split between ALERRT’s traditional role of training peace officers and another new one involving school teachers and administrators, with $900,000 going to the former and $450,000 to the latter.
Taken together, the package provides “tools for teachers, administrators and law enforcement,” Doggett said. “Local people have the tools to control violence.”
Montague, a retired Hays County sheriff, said ALERRT is still a “work in progress” that is successful because of the commitment of law officers themselves, who often take vacation or “comp” time to conduct the training.
ALERRT first opened in 2002 and to date has trained more than 13,000 law officers. The center operates as a partnership with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, the San Marcos Police Department, the Texas Engineering Extension Service, the Governor’s Office-Criminal Justice Division and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance.
In addition to Doggett and Montague, dignitaries present at the press conference included Sheriff Allen Bridges, Police Chief Howard Williams, Fire Rescue Chief Mike Baker, Mayor Susan Narvaiz and Texas State President Dr. Denise Trauth.