Tulsa Police, Tulsa Public Schools To Step Up School Security

Monday, December 17th 2012, 7:36 am
By: Emory Bryan

School leaders here in Tulsa are reacting to the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, by evaluating security.

They've decided on a plan to increase the visibility of police officers both in and around schools.

Five years ago, Tulsa Public Schools established a police department that's grown to 23 officers. They focus entirely on the schools, but they can't be everywhere.

In light of Friday's shooting, the district and the city have decided to do more.

Every day, Tulsa campus police officers and security guards are on duty. But with 23 officers and 50 guards spread over the entire district, it leaves about half of all schools and almost all of the elementary schools without an armed guard.

Tulsa Public Schools and the Tulsa Police Department are working to have more officers around schools more often.

"In the next few days, every public school will be visited by a police officer," said Chief Chuck Jordan.

12/14/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools Discusses Campus Security In Wake Of East Coast Tragedy

The new effort is not because of a specific threat, but is a response to the Connecticut shootings.

"The fact that you're gonna see more police officers does not infer that the school's not safe. It's really meant to kind of say, ‘We want you to know that we're here,'" said Chief Gary Rudick.

Some Tulsa Schools have the constant presence of an armed guard on campus.

Parents and students can expect to see more city police officers around school in the coming days, based a new emphasis to watch the schools.

"I think you're going to see TPS officers come in and introduce themselves. They're going to talk with the staff there - how are they feeling, if there's anything they're concerned about - and when they have downtime to prepare reports, they can do that in the parking lot," said Rudick.

The plan for extra patrols and more time on campus is a new agreement between the city and the school district.

The two departments already share radio and computer links to help coordinate their work, but this will have regular duty officers at schools more often.

"It's our job now to make certain that our children and our teachers and our administrators, that they are safe," said Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

The officer visits started Monday and they'll continue indefinitely.

At the same time, Tulsa Public Schools is also continuing to update security with more electronic locks on outside doors and cameras, so people in the office can see outside.