The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 20, 2012

State leaders announce school security panel

Staff and wire reports
Enid News and Eagle

— Oklahoma legislative leaders say they will create a panel of experts on school security, to make recommendations to the Legislature on how to improve school safety.

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and leaders of the Oklahoma House and Senate held a news conference Thursday at the state Capitol, to announce the formation of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security.

Lamb, an Enid native and a former Secret Service agent, will chair the committee. Although the makeup of the commission hasn’t been determined, Lamb said he expects it will include members of law enforcement, emergency responders, teachers and administrators, and mental health experts.

“In light of recent events, the time has come for us to assess the current school security system in Oklahoma,” Lamb said. “The Oklahoma Commission on School Security will provide an avenue for some of Oklahoma’s finest to collaborate toward a common goal. With the right knowledge and resources, we can effectively provide a safer school climate for our most precious commodity.”

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said the goal of the panel is to make recommendations to lawmakers for the 2013 legislative session, which begins in February.

A day earlier, Gov. Mary Fallin urged school officials and local police to take advantage of security training seminars offered by the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security.

The two-day seminars are free and held at various locations across the state. Experts at the Office of Homeland Security help local school officials develop emergency response plans, and teach them how to conduct a security survey to identify potential problem areas.

Enid Public Schools spokeswoman Amber Graham Fitzgerald said each school in the district has a committee that meets to make recommendations for safety and security.

“Over the last week, schools across the district have been reviewing plans and making adjustments,” Fitzgerald said. “This review process will continue on a regular basis.”

Schools make decisions about security based upon the needs of each site.

“Site-based decisions are made about what doors should be accessible, based on the building’s configuration and needs. Cameras are also used where more accessibility is needed,” Fitzgerald said. “Through recent construction, we have worked to relocate as many offices as possible so that the only school-time entrance is through or within feet of the office.”

She said nothing is more important than the safety of district’s students and staff, and Enid Public Schools works with other agencies and organizations to ensure their safety.

“We also collaborate with local law enforcement and emergency management agencies to revise our site and district-wide plans. In addition, we are fortunate to have CLEET-certified police officers on our staff,” she said. “This week, as a precaution and comfort for students and their families, the Enid Police Department has also offered to provide an increased presence in our schools. We appreciate their support.”

EPD Capt. Jack Morris said the when department receives any reports of threats or rumors, they are handled appropriately and never discounted.

“We’re not going to take them lightly,” he said. “We’ve had a couple but with no details or suspects. The proper people have been notified.”