Tulsa Public Schools Discusses Campus Security In Wake Of East Coast Tragedy

Friday, December 14th 2012, 6:07 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Kendall Whittier is the only elementary school in Tulsa with a guard on site, and that's only because it's so large, about 1,400 students.

Tulsa Public Schools police chief Gary Rudick says TPS is increasing security, but the most effective plan doesn't make schools look like prison.

"The most effective way to keep schools safe is building relationships with kids and parents because they know first where the risks come from, what the threats are," Rudick said.

The district has a high-tech dispatch center for officers where they can remotely monitor some schools, but only about half have camera systems installed.

More are coming, as money from a bond issue becomes available.

"By 2015, we'll all have security cameras that can be observed not only at the school site, but also here so I and our people here can see what's happening at any remote school site," Rudick said.

Newer schools like Kendall Whittier also have electronic locks that require someone to identify visitors before they come in the door.

But many other schools don't have those features - and all the other elementary schools, like Lanier, do not have an armed guard on site at all times.

TPS stations a police officer and armed security guards at all of the high schools.

Armed security guards are at each of the middle schools, the alternative schools and one elementary school.

TPS police can respond to other sites within minutes, but the first line of defense is really the staff, the principal and teachers.

"I cannot tell a principal staff member, faculty member, to stand against an armed person who is bent on causing death and destruction," Rudick said. "I can't tell you what to do there, I just can't.

"I don't think there's a principal or teacher in this district who would not put themselves at risk if they had to in order to protect a child."