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Oklahoma commission hears from school security experts

The Oklahoma Commission on School Security had no discussion during its first meeting. The group opted instead to listen to experts in school security, education, mental health and law enforcement.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: January 23, 2013

Improving school safety will require attention to both the physical security and mental well-being of students, a panel of experts told a state commission Tuesday.

The Oklahoma Commission on School Security met for the first time and spent the entire meeting listening to experts in the fields of school security, education, mental health and law enforcement.

The group met as details were still emerging about a shooting that happened Tuesday on the Lone Star College campus in Houston, Texas.

“No one thing, no one person, no one policy will prevent all evil from occurring,” said Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, who leads the commission. “But our mission, our goal, is to mitigate, to lessen tragedy like what we have recently witnessed.”

The next meeting is set for Feb. 5. The group will not discuss funding or gun control because both issues are being addressed by other bodies both federally and locally, Lamb said.

Physical security

Is put on back burner

Safety procedures and building security prevented additional loss of life in the Connecticut mass shooting last month, said Ken Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services.

“While we mourn every life that is lost, one of the points I raise, is if they had not had that training ... even greater number of lives would have been lost,” Trump told the commission via Skype.

Nationwide, federal grant money for security equipment and school resource officers has dried up, Trump said.

Local school district budgets are tighter than ever. Staff training is less common.

Emergency preparedness money is scarce.

“Combined, we've had some challenges in keeping school security on the front burner,” Trump said.

Trump encouraged the commission to avoid fads, like bulletproof backpacks or teaching students to throw items at an intruder.

“After a high-profile incident, we tend to try to grasp for some type of straw — do something differently,” Trump said. “Clearly something didn't work. But I challenge you to stay focused.”

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