Centralia Church Holds Active Shooter Drill

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CENTRALIA - Congregation members of First Christian Church participated in an active shooter drill on Saturday morning.

Columbia Police Department Sergeant Michael Hestir led the drill and explained what a person should do if an active shooter or intruder came into the church or any other public place.

Hestir is one of four trained ALICE instructors for the Columbia Police Department. ALICE stands for "Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate." According to the ALICE website, it's a program that teaches people to be prepared for "life-and-death encounters." The ALICE program is designed to teach survival skills to several different types of institutions such as schools, hospitals, businesses and churches.

Hestir said First Christian Church in Centralia is the first church in the area that has participated in ALICE training. He's been a member of the church for seven years and thinks the training is necessary.

"We want to prepare our members to be good members of the church and community," Hestir said. "We just want them to have a plan."

Hestir said some of the best ways to prepare for an intruder is to know where exits are located, call the police if you perceive someone to be dangerous, leave or hide if you can and fight back if you're cornered.

"Our big focus is on avoidance," Hestir said. "Through the church, our focus is on trying to reach out to people who may be experiencing difficulty in their life and may be considering [violence], and to try to help them or get them the help."

Hestir said he approached the church about the presentation.

"It's one of my gifts that I wanted to share with my congregation," Hestir said. "It's an ugly gift, but I'm knowledgeable about this subject and I just wanted to prepare them whether it happens here or anywhere in the community on what to do."

Dayton Shepherd is a member of First Christian Church and said the congregation wanted to participate in the ALICE program because of recent violence.

"We decided that with the things that are occurring, particularly in the United States between schools, churches and all across the nation, that this was something we probably should be aware of," Shepherd said. "We got to looking and counting up, and found that we have five different entrances that were open normally on a Sunday morning."

To set up an ALICE presentation, contact the Columbia Police Department.