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August 19, 2012

911 Advisory Board wants secrecy under Homeland Security umbrella

CLAREMORE — Rogers County officials plan to discuss in a special meeting whether having open meetings of the 911 Advisory Board jeopardizes security, integrity and operations of the center under Homeland Security.

Janet Hamilton, Rogers County 911 Administrator, released the agenda Friday afternoon which included the sole item for discussion at the special meeting slated for 10 a.m. Friday at the OSU Extension Building, 416 S. Brady.

The agenda item is listed as “1. Article in Claremore Progress.  Does holding an open meeting jeopardize the security, integrity, and operations of the 9-1-1 center under Homeland Security.”

The Homeland Security Act specifically lists the primary mission of the act is to

(A) prevent terrorist attacks within the United States;

(B) reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; and

(C) minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States.

For example, providing public access to records or discussions relating to the construction, organization, development, finances and contractual agreements for operations for the new 911 center do not relate to the definition of critical infrastructure within the Homeland Security Act.

These items are just some of the issues that were presented during a recent meeting where the board was cautioned about “security” issues and a need for privacy.

Critical infrastructure refers to the necessary resources or key assets. Emergency services including 911 public safety answering points are considered part of the system, however privacy protections are limited under the act.

The act is designed to protect against “information pertaining to actual, potential, or threatened interference with, attack on, compromise of, or incapacitation of critical infrastructure or protected systems by either physical or computer-based attack or other similar conduct.”

The advisory board’s proposed protection under the Homeland Security Act will likely be based on the protection of critical information including emergency services.

However, as currently presented, Hamilton and Assistant District Attorney David Iski are attempting to use what was designed to protect detailed information that could be tools for terrorist attacks as an umbrella for all operations.

The Homeland Security Act does not support this use to limit public access to information.

It is important to note the act was established to protect against terrorist attack, not open records requests or public meetings.

During the advisory board’s meeting Thursday, Commissioner Mike Helm suggested that discussing any items related to the 911 center’s operation could be a security risk.

The agenda items were limited to discussion and action regarding possible equipment purchases and proposed operating policy.

The advisory board is comprised of the Rogers County Commissioners Helm, Kirt Thacker, Dan DeLozier, Hamilton and other representatives from fire and police in the county.

As a governmental body conducting business, it is legally required to post public notice of its meetings, including an agenda of items that will be discussed in accordance with state statute and the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act.

The Oklahoma Open Meetings Act does provide for a public body to enter into executive session when it discusses matters to personnel, litigation and contract negotiations.  

The act does allow for an executive session when the topic relates to terrorism, but not for the operations of the 911 center.

Rogers County voters approved the extension of a sales tax in 2011 to provide for the $2 million 911 center.

The public has a right to have the information presented in a public format to provided accountability for how the $2 million will be spent.

During Thursday’s board meeting Helm and Iski, who is legal counsel to the commissioners, briefly left the meeting. When they returned Helm suggested discussing matters about the 911 center would be a security risk.

The advisory board also proposed restricting the public’s access to 911 dispatch recordings without providing any statute to support such a decision.

Helm also said certain inquiries by Washington County officials about possibly joining the Rogers County 911 dispatching service should not be discussed in public.

The recent actions of Helm, Iski and Hamilton are establishing a pattern of limited public access to information including the proposed use of Homeland Security.

 The full text of the agenda is found below.

NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING

9-1-1 ADVISORY BOARD FOR ROGERS COUNTY, OKLAHOMA PLACE:  OSU Extension Building, 416 S. Brady, Claremore, OK.

DATE & TIME: Friday, August 24, 2012, at 10 O'clock A.M.

AGENDA

***CONSIDERATION, DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION TO BE TAKEN ON THE FOLLOWING LISTED ITEMS ON THE AGENDA:

ITEM 1: CALL TO ORDER:                                                                     

ITEM 2: ROLL CALL TO ESTABLISH QUORUM:

Determine that Notice of Meeting and Agenda were properly posted in accordance with the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.

ITEM 3:  AGENDA ITEMS:

1. Article in Claremore Progress.  Does holding an open meeting jeopardize the security, integrity, and operations of the 9-1-1 center under Homeland Security.         

ITEM 4:    RECESS OR ADJOURNMENT:    

ROGERS COUNTY 9-1-1 ADVISORY BOARD                                     By:________________________________

(SEAL) Janet Hamilton, 9-1-1 Administrator

 

 Notice of said meeting was filed in the Office of the County Clerk on Friday, Aug. 17, 2012, at 2 pm and posted on the Courthouse Bulletin Board; Outside the Commissioner's Meeting Room; on the Exterior Window at the Southeast Entrance and Front Door Entrances to the Courthouse; on the wheelchair ramp door; and on the exterior window at 416 S. Brady.

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