Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and Kim Carter, Director of the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, gave an update on what the Oklahoma School Security Institute (OSSI) has been providing to schools across Oklahoma since the OSSI went into effect July 1, 2013 and what plans the OSSI has for the 2014 calendar year.
“The most basic priority of government is to protect its people. The OSSI has provided information and training that has equipped our schools and provided a secure environment for our students,” said Lamb.
In 2013, the Oklahoma School Security Institute conducted 14 two-day school security seminars across the state. These seminars were attended by 129 school districts. These school districts represent 228,000 students and 12,000 teachers.
This training also benefited seven career technology institutions, six colleges, and 15 private schools. Other attendees to the seminars included law enforcement and public safety officers.
The seminars are designed to provide school administrators and public safety agencies with a base knowledge of school security issues, and to provide them with some basic tools to help them create and implement a security plan in their schools. Attendees are offered continued support such as personal consulting and assessments from the OSSI as they develop their security plans. To enhance planning and preparedness efforts aimed at school security, the OSSI will soon begin offering schools and public safety agencies across the state a training course titled “Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools.”
This course is designed for schools that may not have an existing safety and security plan, or for schools who want to bolster their current plans. Attendees will learn how to develop safety and security teams within the school, and provide these team members with the knowledge and tools to create a plan unique to their school facilities.
A “train the trainer” course is scheduled for February, 2014, to help develop a cadre of Oklahoma instructors who can teach this course, with classes available for schools to attend by March, 2014. Other training classes under development include school bus security, how to conduct security assessments, crisis communications, tactical medical response, and developing a survival mindset. For the past few years, the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security and the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) have partnered to provide active shooter response training to local law enforcement agencies. This two-day training course has been very well received by local police agencies, and over 2,000 law enforcement officers have received this training.
Active shooter response training courses will continue to be offered in 2014 and beyond.
The OSSI, working along with Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, has selected the “Mental Health First Aid for Youth” training course to be made available to school teachers, school staff members, and others such as law enforcement officers and public safety officials. This eight-hour course introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health crisis. The Office of Homeland Security has hired a program manager for the Oklahoma School Security Institute. The program manager will be responsible for coordinating the OSSI’s statewide efforts to provide quality training and consulting services to all personnel involved in school security. The OSSI’s training efforts will not only focus on schools, but also on other important disciplines such law enforcement, the fire service, emergency medical services, and emergency management.
“The OSSI is a great asset that provides valuable training and information to our schools. The OSSI works with school personnel without mandating their day to day activities. I encourage all schools across the state to take advantage of the OSSI,” said Lamb.