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Statewide School Safety Commission Focusing on School Security and Emergency Response

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LAWTON, Okla_ The issue of school safety remains top of mind for lawmakers state wide. Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb has assembled a 22-member commission on school security to come up with solutions on how to keep students and teachers safe.

The commission will report back to Lamb on March 15th with their suggestions on what changes should be made and propose a bill that will hopefully be voted on this session.

Retired Major General Lee Baxter said the group is very diverse. They've got everyone from police chiefs to ministers and school administrators. He realizes they have a big responsibility but is excited to be working together to make a crack at solving a problem that's long overdue. 

"I think you could make the argument that we're way behind, " said Baxter. "And not just in Oklahoma at all, but when something like this happens in Connecticut we all say how could this happen?"

And that's what Baxter and the rest of the commission is working to keep from happening again.

After their initial meeting, each member has been tasked with coming up with several talking points for their upcoming agenda, and physical security of schools tops Baxter's list.

"Just making sure our buildings, our school buildings and the children in them and the faculty are secure, " said Baxter.

The commission has taken suggestions from Oklahomans across the state on improvements they'd like to see made. Emergency response is another big ticket item. They even discussed the possibility of placing panic buttons in teacher's rooms to aid in a crisis situation.

"I mean people are very concerned if a teacher would be able to press a button and get somebody to understand he or she has a big problem. I mean quite frankly we're not there at all, " said Baxter.

Baxter suspects a harder look at school safety will have to continue much after their March deadline.

"I think it's going to have to continue probably in a different form, so that we're sure we're focusing on things that have longer term value like mental health, like anti-bullying and of course there's a wide range of thought on guns and gun control, " said Baxter.

The goal is to keep kids safe, and because there are so many different aspects to the problem of school safety, Baxter says it's important they don't get caught up in trying to fix every little problem and instead keep their main goals in mind and concentrate on coming up with a plan with a great foundation.

"We need to keep it simple and basic and make sure the fundamental, basic things that surround security are done. And not try to be all things to all people and all schools and try to fix the whole problem that's associated with security in our schools, " said Baxter.

The commission will meet four more times between now and their March deadline. In that time, the commission hopes to come up with legislation that can be voted on in this current session.

 

If you'd like to have your recommendations heard, you can call the Lieutenant Governor's office at 405-521-2161.

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