LITTLE ROCK — Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced Tuesday the launch of a training initiative for law enforcement officers, educators and emergency responders to help schools prepare for the possibility of active threats on campus.

LITTLE ROCK — Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced Tuesday the launch of a training initiative for law enforcement officers, educators and emergency responders to help schools prepare for the possibility of active threats on campus.


In what he said would likely be his last news conference as attorney general, McDaniel, who is prohibited by term limits from seeking a third term, said his office has added two agents in its Special Investigations Division who will offer specialized training courses at no cost.


"As a law enforcement officer and as a father, it is my duty and my prayer that our state’s children are safe when they are at school," he said. "One way that we can make sure of that is to have teachers, administrators and emergency responders who know what to do and how to save lives in the even that their is an active threat to their campus."


McDaniel said school employees who receive the training will learn how to "avoid, deny and defend" in active-shooter situations, meaning they will learn first to attempt to avoid danger, then to deny entry to a classroom or building and ultimately to defend themselves if necessary.


Law enforcement officers and first responders will receive Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Techniques, or ALERRT, training, which focuses on engagement with active shooters and on teaching first responders how to treat victims in the critical time before additional medical help arrives, McDaniel said.


"Some private companies currently provide this type of service to our school districts, but they charge significant amounts of money," he said. "Some private companies charge as much as $500 per employee to attend courses."


McDaniel thanked state Rep. Andrea Lea, R-Russellville, who joined him in the news conference, for approaching him last year with the idea of adding a school safety component to the Special Investigations Division. He said Lea also sponsored legislation that enabled his office to hire the two officers who will conduct the training courses.


Also joining McDaniel were Chris Thyer, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas; Arkansas Education Commissioner Tony Wood; Ken Jones, director of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy; and Cheryl May, director of the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute.


McDaniel was asked Tuesday about the question of whether to allow school personnel to carry guns. In an August 2013 advisory opinion, he said the state Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies did not have authority to authorize school districts to use teachers and staff members as armed security guards.


In September 2013, the board said 13 school districts that had already received approval to arm employees could continue to do so for two years, with the expectation that the Legislature would address the issue in 2015. Some legislators have said they support allowing all schools to train and arm employees.


"I’ve personally expressed my concerns about that, but I won’t be in elected office in the next legislative session, so it will be up to the next General Assembly to make that decision," McDaniel said Tuesday.


"In the meantime, what we know is that there are a number of curriculums that have been developed around the country that are proven to increase the level of safety and protection on any given campus, and clearly Rep. Lea’s vision and what has been produced here in conjunction with our partners is designed to do that," he said.