Oklahoma City school district official calls for more security drills for students, staff

BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Modified: January 7, 2013 at 10:12 pm •  Published: January 8, 2013
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A top Oklahoma City Public Schools administrator is recommending more lockdown drills and more school resource officers in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school massacre.

State law requires schools to practice lockdown drills once per semester, but Chief Operations Officer Jim Burkey said Oklahoma City schools should do four.

“We need to make these security drills and lockdowns as familiar with the students as we have tornado drills,” Burkey said. “You grow up in Oklahoma, when the siren goes off, especially in a school, you know what you're supposed to do. We need to have that same familiarity with staff and students.”

Burkey said the lockdown drills need to be supervised by law enforcement, who can offer suggestions. The same strategy has worked in the past for the district.

“The best fire drills we have is when the Oklahoma City Fire Department is there and we've got a professional set of eyes on what's occurring there,” Burkey said. “There are things as an administrator that you overlook on a fire drill.”

District 1 board member Lyn Watson asked Burkey what he would do to improve district safety if money were no object.

Burkey's answer was simple: more school resource officers.

All the district middle and high schools have school resource officers, but none of the 55 elementary schools do, Burkey said.

Local law enforcement has been helpful and active since the Connecticut shooting, Burkey said.

Police officers have been visiting schools without resource officers.

Another key to student safety is perimeter security, Burkey said. All outside doors should be locked, and the public should only be allowed to entry through one doorway, which should go by the office. Nearly all schools already have sign-in technology that photographs all visitors.

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