BERRYVILLE — You never know what's in people's minds, Berryville Police Chief Neal White said.

So he wants town and Clarke County employees to be ready to handle the unthinkable.

On May 31, a disgruntled employee fatally shot 12 people and wounded four others at Virginia Beach's municipal building. In recent years, there have been other shootings at government buildings and schools across the nation.

Because the Berryville-Clarke County community is small and close-knit, White believes an incident like what happened in Virginia Beach is unlikely to occur here. Still, he wants local officials to be prepared.

"Unfortunately, we're at a point in time where you have to take these things into consideration," he said.

White plans to provide ALICE (Alert, Lock Down, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training for all town employees. He is encouraging Clarke County to provide the training to its employees, too, considering they work in the same government building. County officials are showing interest.

"I think we live in a safe community," said David Weiss, chairman of the Clarke County Board of Supervisors. "But in today's world, I think it's always in the back of your mind (the possibility of a mass tragedy occurring). It's always good to be prepared."

The ALICE Training Institute teaches people in schools, government offices, businesses, hospitals and places of worship to respond to armed intruder incidents, its website shows.

Clarke County Public Schools already has undergone ALICE training.

"All of our school-based staff, full- and part-time, have received training in ALICE," Superintendent Chuck Bishop wrote in an email Wednesday morning. "The training is conducted by our school division Safety Team and the real benefit is that it educates employees on their options in a crisis situation."

"Our students in grades K-12 are also trained through active participation in a variety of crisis drills," Bishop wrote.

Training costs about $35 per person. The total cost to Berryville will be less than $1,500, and it will be covered by a grant that the town received from an insurance provider, White said.

"It's relatively inexpensive," he said, " ... especially when you put it in the perspective of what you're trying to accomplish, and that is save a life."

Clarke County Administrator David Ash estimated it would cost less than $1,000 for county employees based at the Berryville-Clarke County Government Center on Chalmers Court to undergo ALICE training. He said the money could be taken from the county's general fund balance or a budgetary line-item for contracted services.

The supervisors' Finance Committee is recommending that the training be funded. However, the recommendation must go before the full board for approval, said Weiss, the Buckmarsh District supervisor.

— Contact Mickey Powell at mpowell@winchesterstar.com

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