Claremore Daily Progress

December 23, 2012

School security becomes top priority

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, some legislative measures loom on the horizon.

Teachers, law enforcement, administrators and parents are looking for more ways to protect children at school.

Claremore Police Department recently upgraded security efforts for Claremore Public Schools.

Claremore Chief of Police Stan Brown made a brief statement during the city council meeting last week.

The police department is taking due consideration for the events that have occurred, Brown said.

Officers have been trained to deal with these types of issues, according to Brown.

“I have spoke with the principals and the superintendant about reassessing our response plans,” Brown said.  “We are prepared to have an increase presence.”

The council made a few brief remarks concerning the increase in school security.

“It gave me great peace and comfort to see you at Westside and it helped our students,” Councilor Paula Watson said.

The local efforts are just the beginning as state officials are examining plans that would offer a new alternative to school security.

State Rep. Mark McCullough is planning to file legislation that will, among other things, allow CLEET-certified teachers and principals to carry firearms at school and at school events.

McCullough released the following statement earlier this week.

“We cannot continue to be shackled by politically correct, reflexive, anti-gun sentiment in the face of the obvious - our schools are soft targets,” said McCullough, R-Sapulpa. “It is incredibly irresponsible to leave our schools undefended - to allow mad men to kill dozens of innocents when we have a very simple solution available to us to prevent it. I’ve been considering this proposal for a long time. In light of the savagery on display in Connecticut, I believe it’s an idea whose time has come.

“I trust my children to my local teachers and principal every day. I want to give these trusted, responsible educators the ability to defend themselves and our children in the same way any normal parent would, in the face of the unthinkable.”

Many Oklahoma legislators have been seriously examining gun laws for revision, beginning with a 2011 legislative study.

“We’ve been doing our due diligence on this topic. It’s important to get it right,” said McCullough. “CLEET certification is the exact same training our law enforcement professionals receive. Obviously we do not want firearms out and about in the school where students might have access to them. For that reason, if educators are allowed to carry firearms, it is necessary that they have them on their person at all times.”

McCullough said he plans to ensure there is funding available for CLEET certification for educators. He would also like to see schools coordinate with local police departments.

“One idea that has been discussed would be to actually designate these educators as reserve officers with local police and sheriff departments,” said McCullough. Lawmakers are currently in the process of drafting legislation, which must be filed by 4 p.m. on Jan. 17, 2013.