Fallin says measures in place to help provide safe school environments
Ponca City Now - February 28, 2018 10:36 am
OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday assured Oklahomans that measures are in place intended to keep Oklahoma students safe.
The Oklahoma School Security Institute, created under legislation signed into law in 2013 by Fallin, operates under the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security. The institute continues to offer schools training in numerous areas, and provides other services, such as security assessments at school campuses.
“The state of Oklahoma has a duty to do everything we can to keep our children safe. Every parent should have their child come home safely,” said Fallin. “The Oklahoma School Security Institute ensures that schools are well prepared for emergencies of all kinds. It also helps to provide more training and better coordination between law enforcement and education professionals.”
Kim Edd Carter, director of the Office of Homeland Security, said the institute’s staff of three also works with the State Department of Education to provide training it proposes schools obtain.
The Office of Homeland Security partners with Oklahoma’s fusion center to provide a free statewide tip line for school security reporting. Information reported to the tip line is forwarded to the appropriate school administrators and local law enforcement authorities.
Persons may email concerns to the tip line program, Tipline.OK.gov. It is available for anyone to report suspicious activity or a possible threat to any Oklahoma school. Reports may be made anonymously. Or persons may call (855) 337-8300.
“When parents send their children off to school, they expect their children to be safe,” Carter said. “The Oklahoma School Security Institute staff works with school officials to provide a secure environment for our students.”
The homeland security office also offers active-shooter training to law enforcement officers, he said. About 7,000 of the state’s law officers have undergone such training.
Carter said the Office of Homeland Security is launching a single-officer response course on active-shooter response.
Another major training course offered by the homeland security office is the law enforcement first-responder course, which trains officers how to use tourniquets, chest seals, and wound packing materials that are needed after a shooting. When the officer graduates from this eight-hour course, he is given a small kit that contains the tools he had been trained to use. Those kits are purchased by the Office of Homeland Security with federal and state funds, Carter said.
A law passed in 2015 gives local public school boards the authority to allow school personnel with a concealed-carry license to attend an armed security-guard training program and be armed on campus.
State law allows private schools to make similar decisions. If a private school has a policy allowing the carrying of weapons, a person with a concealed-carry license may carry a weapon on private school property.
Certified law enforcement personnel, such as school resource officers, may carry firearms in public schools.
The Oklahoma School Security Institute and Rose State College are hosting a panel discussion on school safety at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Rose State College Community Learning Center in Midwest City.
School safety was discussed by Fallin and other governors attending the National Governors Association conference last weekend in Washington, D.C., during a meeting with President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.