Harrah Public Schools Heightening Security Following Choctaw Shooting

“We have added additional security officers both armed and unarmed,” Blessington said.

Monday, August 28th 2023, 10:36 pm


Safety measures at games often lie in the hands of the districts and their local police departments. One district is already upping security for their game this Friday night. 

“Certainly, a heightened sense of security,” said Paul Blessington, superintendent at Harrah Public Schools. “To know that that’s happening literally down the street from your own community scares me to death. If it can happen in Choctaw, it can happen anywhere.”

Blessington said he carries a responsibility to protect his 2,100 students at Harrah Public Schools. 

“That’s kinda where we’re at with things. We have to go to these extremes," Blessington said. 

Changes in security come after five people were injured at a Choctaw football game, about seven miles from Harrah, last Friday night. One student lost his life.

“The idea that parents are dealing with someone that was lost breaks your heart,” Blessington said.

Choctaw Police Chief Kelly Marshall said security is always top of mind at games. 

“Because it is such a large school, they pay for five officers to be there,” Marshall said.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pew Research Center says teens killed by gunfire between 2019 and 2021 jumped 50 percent. 

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, in 2020, gun related deaths surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death in children.  

Blessington said schools are a soft target for violence and districts have to adjust to keep people safe.

“We have added additional security officers both armed and unarmed,” Blessington said.

Friday night large bags like this won’t be allowed inside the gate here at Harrah and security officers will scan people with handheld metal detectors before they enter.  

“We have to find those resources,” Blessington said.

 Security brings an added cost, but Blessington believes safety is worth every penny. 

“We are looking at the possibility of metal detectors,” Blessington said. “Right now, we’re trying to pull together some prices.”

A conversation no one wants to have. However, Marshall said it’s a chance for communities to come back stronger than before. 

“This isn’t a time to fall apart,” Marshall said. “This is a time to come together, and I know that’s happening.” 

Moore, Oklahoma City, and Mid-Del schools all have metal detectors for games. Putnam City Schools has a weapons detection system. In addition, most districts require students to leave bags at home, have IDs -- and potentially bring a chaperone to games. 


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