Lt. Governor Todd Lamb, Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman and House Speaker-elect T.W. Shannon have announced the formation of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security.
“In light of recent events, the time has come for us to assess the current school security system in Oklahoma,” said Lamb. “The Oklahoma Commission on School Security will provide an avenue for some of Oklahoma’s finest to collaborate towards a common goal. With the right knowledge and resources, we can effectively provide a safer school climate for our most precious commodity.”
Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage and House Democratic Leader Scott Inman have agreed to work with Republican leadership to form a non-partisan commission. The purpose of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security will be to study a number of school security factors and to provide suggestions and possible legislative recommendations for the 2013 legislative session. Some initial issues to be discussed within the commission’s study will include current school safety measures, local control and local empowerment and mental health.
“The events of the previous week have deeply impacted us all,” said Bingman. “This is a time to grieve for the families in Newtown, to hug our kids a little bit tighter, and a time to ask ourselves how we can respond appropriately. I am encouraged by the non-partisan, thoughtful approach shown my colleagues in legislative leadership. Together, we believe Lt. Governor Lamb, as an expert in physical security from his time defending the President of the United States, is particularly equipped to lead our Oklahoma Commission on School Security – I am thankful for his leadership and willingness to serve.”
“What took place in Newtown is unfathomable and disturbing,” said Shannon. “Our schools have too often become soft targets for those who have no regard for the precious lives of our children and those who we trust to educate and care for them. As a father and Speaker-elect, there is no higher priority than the safety of our children. Now is the time for us to review the safety needs of our public and private schools. The purpose of this commission is to put forth ideas that will address the safety needs of both our metropolitan and rural school districts.”
“What took place in Newtown almost a week ago, an act of pure evil, is still so hard for all of us as Americans to understand,” said Burrage. “As legislative leaders in Oklahoma, we feel the right thing to do is come together in a non-partisan way to look at how we might be able to create safer classrooms for our kids. We must address the physical security of our school facilities, as well as very challenging mental health issues. I look forward to the recommendations of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security.”
“In light of the tragic events in Connecticut last week I welcome the opportunity for us all to come together in a bipartisan manner and discuss ways in which we can best protect the children of Oklahoma,” said Inman. “I appreciate the willingness of the Speaker-Elect to solicit input and consider solutions that are not simply knee-jerk reactions to the tragic events of Sandy Hook Elementary School. I look forward to working in the days ahead with the Speaker-Elect on this important issue.”
Lamb began the initial steps in increasing school security when he was in the Oklahoma State Senate and the principal author of the Oklahoma School Security Act. The act, Senate Bill 1941, required schools to practice lockdowns two times a year. The measure additionally defined electronic communication as a form of bullying. The Oklahoma School Security Act also created a place on regional Homeland Security Advisory boards for school administrators.
As a former United States Secret Service Agent, Lamb will bring his law enforcement experience and serve as chair of the commission, working with legislative leaders to appoint commission members in the coming weeks. Various backgrounds will be represented on the commission to include homeland security, local police, local school personnel, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and mental health.