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OKC School Officials, Law Enforcement Work On School Safety Plan

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School districts big and small, urban and rural, are faced with the challenging task of improving school security. School districts big and small, urban and rural, are faced with the challenging task of improving school security.
HARRAH, Oklahoma -

Since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., many ideas to improve school security have been thrown around.

Some advocate for putting armed guards in every school while others suggest arming teachers. Now administrators, law enforcement and lawmakers need to look at what's actually feasible with real-world constraints.

School districts big and small, urban and rural, are faced with the challenging task of improving school security. In Harrah, former police officer Phil Stewart has been charged with making comprehensive changes to school district's security policy.

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"Simply putting a police officer in the parking lot in a car just isn't going to be sufficient in today's day and time. This needs to be somebody who is directly involved with the schools. Knows the daily habits and patterns of the schools and its students," he said.

Tightening budgets, however, prevent most places from putting highly-trained, armed resource officers in every school. Stewart said there are other options that do not cost money.

"All the way down to that one teacher challenging whoever in the building, ‘Good morning may I help you find someone?' We're going to know within seconds if that person is an intruder."

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Stewart said an inside-out line of defense has to be in place. That includes training teachers situational defense skills to minimize the impacts of an intruder.

"We conduct intruder and lockdown drills the way other districts conduct fire drills. We do them frequently. We do them as realistically as we can without frightening our students."

Stewart also said arming teachers and administrators might not be the best solution, unless they go through extensive training because accidents can happen, such as guns being left unattended.

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