OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation that would allow CLEET-certified school personnel to act as special reserve school resource officers has been approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
These volunteers from the schools would have a special, sworn, law enforcement status and would serve as armed security in their local schools and at school events.
House Bill 1062, developed by state Reps. Mark McCullough, Sean Roberts and Josh Cockroft (R-Tecumseh) passed the House by a 68-23 vote and advances to the state Senate. The bill was also developed with the input of countless parents, educators and law enforcement officials.
“This legislation creates an option some schools may use to address safety concerns; it is not a mandate,” said McCullough, R-Sapulpa. “Schools without some form of security system in place leave themselves vulnerable to attacks and, as lawmakers, our job is to provide them with tools to keep their students safe.”
“This is an important tools that smaller, rural schools may opt to use to address the safety of their students,” said Cockroft, R-Tecumseh. “It is not a mandate and we have worked hard to ensure it gives local school boards the decision and requires 120 hours of training on the part of those who participate.”
“There is nothing more important than protecting our children,” said Roberts, R-Hominy. “For districts that are unable to provide every school a resource officer, this gives them an option to provide security.”
McCullough also praised the work of the Commission on School Security.
“I think they did an excellent job of coming up with some good recommendations to address school safety,” McCullough said. “Specifically the effort to address mental health concerns and create the Oklahoma School Security Institute.”
House Bill 1062 provides complete local control for participation in the program. The school boards would make the decision on whether or not to participate and who the volunteers would be. The certification would require a minimum of 120 hours of training to be specially developed by the Council for Law Enforcement Education and Training. It has the benefit of using the existing structure of the local law enforcement reserve system, uses a pool of readily available volunteers and provides immunity for participating school boards, school personnel and law enforcement entities.
McCullough is also seeking funding for school districts who would like to participate in the program.
“This is not about guns in schools,” McCullough said. “It is about providing a serious response to potential violent threats that could develop in our schools such as we have seen in Connecticut and elsewhere. Our current policies leave our schools largely unprotected from violent threats and this must be remediated. This measure provides a workable solution to this obvious problem.”