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.
The new task force will continue to look at how to improve emergency preparedness on campuses around the state, Johnson said. The task force also may arrange campus safety summits, which would include speakers to discuss emergency preparedness.
The task force will also work to prevent any legislation that would allow for guns on college campuses, Johnson said.
Efforts have arisen in the Oklahoma Legislature in recent years to lift a statewide ban on concealed weapons on college campuses. Several bills seeking to ease restrictions on weapons on campus have been filed in recent years, but none have been successful. No bills dealing with guns on campus have been filed for the 2013 legislative session, which begins Monday.
Johnson has staunchly opposed those efforts, saying guns on campus would create a more dangerous environment.