SEPTEMBER 17, 2007

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Oklahoma Homeland Security and UCO host Oklahoma
secondary school security summit

Local government, law enforcement, K-12 school administrators, school board members and school security officers from throughout the state gathered at the University of Central Oklahoma on Sept. 18 and 19 to attend the 2007 Oklahoma School Security Seminar (OSSS),.

The Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security (OKOHS) and UCO, in cooperation with the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), partnered to host the seminar on school security in conjunction with National Preparedness Month. National Preparedness Month is a nationwide effort held each September to promote preparedness planning at home, work and school.

The goal of the OSSS was to equip participating Oklahoma primary and secondary schools and community partners with the information, experience and resources needed to develop comprehensive security plans for their schools.

The concept for the OSSS stemmed from a new grant program OKOHS developed for public elementary schools last year. The 2006 Education Grant Program was a pilot project that provided five homeland security grants to elementary schools that submitted a completed self-assessment of the physical security of their facilities along with an enhancement plan outlining what improvements could be made. More than 130 elementary schools from across the state participated in the program last year.

“We wanted to capitalize on the ideas and comments we received from those schools participating in the 2006 Education Grant Program,” said Kerry Pettingill, Oklahoma homeland security director. “We saw a need for security enhancements and training, not just at the elementary schools but for secondary schools, as well.”

Attendees participated in a discussion centered on school safety issues and the avenues to find resources available to make schools more secure. Seminar participants also took part in a live and interactive security exercise facilitated by MIPT.

They also heard from state leaders and experts, including Pettingill, State Superintendent Sandy Garrett, Sen. Todd Lamb, keynote speaker Ken Trump and UCO President W. Roger Webb.

Schools that participated in the OSSS are now eligible for grant funding from OKOHS as part of the 2007 Education Grant Program.

“The Oklahoma School Security Seminar is an important educational exercise for all school communities planning to develop or refine a comprehensive security plan in preparation for crisis,” Webb said.

“Oklahoma school administrators now more than ever face competing priorities rarely found outside an educational environment, and one of the most important is providing a secure setting so our state’s students can learn.”

Webb served as Oklahoma Commissioner of Public Safety from 1974 to 1978, and currently serves on the board of the MIPT.

He recently testified on campus security before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and is the longest-serving university president in Oklahoma.

In May of 2007, UCO hosted the National Campus Security Summit for university security, the first of its kind in the country since the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April.

UCO is a public, four-year, master’s level university. Founded in 1890, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Oklahoma.

The OKOHS is the State Administering Agency (SAA) for U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding. To date, the state of Oklahoma has been awarded more than $153 million in DHS grant funding.

Contact: Charles Johnson, UCO, (405) 974-2315