Oklahoma higher education task force to look at emergency preparedness

by Silas Allen Modified: January 31, 2013 at 8:48 pm •  Published: February 1, 2013

A new task force will look at emergency preparedness on Oklahoma's college and university campuses.

The Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education voted Thursday to establish the task force, which officials say will include college and university presidents as well as representatives from a number of law enforcement agencies and the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security.

Higher education officials have been discussing the idea of creating the task force for several months, higher education Chancellor Glen Johnson said.

Those conversations took on more urgency after the recent gun massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six others dead, Johnson said.

The board formed a similar task force in 2007, in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting that left 33 dead, including the shooter. That task force ended last year.

Like the new task force, the previous committee was made up of higher education and law enforcement officials. Regents spokesman Ben Hardcastle said the earlier task force made a number of changes, including implementing the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Incident Management System.

The task force also brought in subject matter experts and trainers to discuss topics like mental health and intruder response, he said.

Members of the previous task force also came away with ideas about how to work most effectively with law enforcement and emergency agencies in their areas, Johnson said. The task force highlighted the responsibility of each institution to create a safe campus environment, he said.

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