OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An expert on public school security told a state task force Tuesday that school staff members and students who are well-trained in emergency preparedness are the best line of defense to avoid injuries and deaths in a shooting.
Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Measures, told the Oklahoma Commission on School Security that budget cuts to public education in recent years had decreased the emphasis on emergency preparedness at schools across the country.
"We've had some challenges in keeping school security on the front burners," Trump told the 22-member commission at its first meeting. But Trump said there's renewed interest following last month's deadly shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six school employees were killed in an elementary school.
"Safety is a priority. Safety is important," Trump said during a teleconference with the commission. "What do we do to help principles better protect our schools?"
While the commission endorsed no concrete proposals to enhance security, chairman Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, said the panel plans to meet several more times to formulate recommendations that could be sent to the 2013 Legislature, which convenes on Feb. 4.
In 2008, lawmakers adopted the Oklahoma School Security Act that, among other things, requires school districts to conduct lockdown drills at each public school. It also requires school administrators to investigate reports of harassment, intimidation, bullying or threatening behavior, including threatening emails or texts.
Lamb, a former Secret Service agent and who authored the legislation while a member of the state Senate, said a federal government study conducted following the school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 found that 71 percent of all school shooting perpetrators were the victims of bullying.