Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb
As parents we want our children to be healthy and do well academically, but our first priority is for our children to be safe and secure during their school day. Following the tragic event in Newtown, Conn. last December, Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman and House Speaker T.W. Shannon asked me to chair the Oklahoma Commission on School Security (OCSS).
The OCSS was a statewide, nonpartisan commission comprised of 22 professionals from various fields including local school personnel, law enforcement, emergency response, mental health and parents.
I previously served as a special agent with the United States Secret Service. As state senator, I was the principal author of the Oklahoma School Security Act. School security has been a focus of mine for many years.
The OCSS members sacrificed their time and provided their expertise to conduct a several week comprehensive analysis of this very important issue. Commission meetings included speaker testimony and discussion on the various factors related to school security including but not limited to public safety, access control, physical assessments, training, mental health and local control.
The OCSS was given a March deadline in order for recommendations to be placed in bills this legislative session. After hearing expert testimony and completing their study, the OCSS released five policy recommendations in the 2013 Report of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security:
1) Formation of the Oklahoma School Security Institute (OSSI)
2) Establish a Mental Health First Aid Training Pilot Program
3) Amend and change state law to consolidate and require safety drills
4) Require the reporting of illegal firearms found on school property to local law enforcement
5) Establish a school security tip line
At the time of printing deadline, I am happy to report that the recommendations have received unanimous support in the State Senate and will now move to the State House for consideration.
No policy can prevent evil from occurring, but the OCSS’s hope is that these recommendations will mitigate and lessen the potential of future large scale school violence. We want our children to be not only healthy and thrive in our great state, but we want to make sure they remain safe and secure during their school day.
The 2013 Report of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security can be viewed in its entirety online at www.ok.gov/ltgovernor.