MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

April 12, 2013

Few changes expected from school security bills

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The package of school security bills that have passed the Oklahoma Legislature and now wait only for Gov. Mary Fallin’s likely signature won’t make schools much safer, at least in the short term, school and law enforcement officials said this week.

The House gave its approval Thursday to four bills establishing a Homeland Security division for school safety and directing schools to run intruder drills, report firearms found on campus and share their emergency plans with local emergency responders.

But school officials — whether in the 120-student Cleora Public School in Afton or the 44,000-student Oklahoma City Public Schools — said they have run lockdown drills, shared their plans with police and alerted police when they find guns for years. And they said Oklahoma’s Office of Homeland Security already helps them prepare for emergencies.

The four bills are only slight modifications to current law. The bill relating to sharing emergency plans with law enforcement, for example, simply gives an explicit definition of “local emergency organization,” and the bill relating to firearm reports extends the law to all unauthorized guns.

The only bill not directed at school districts would instruct the state Office of Homeland Security to create the Homeland Security School Safety Institute to make training advice and protocols available to school districts and police from one central repository.

Current state law already directs the Homeland Security Office to work with educational institutions and local governments, and the office has been providing grants to school districts for security cameras, emergency radios and other gear.

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