Oklahoma National Stockyard Beefs Up Security

Wednesday, February 25th 2009, 7:53 am
By: News On 6

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- Federal dollars are paying for new security on what could potentially be a target for terrorists in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma National Stockyards is a crucial part of the country's food supply and because of that, it's getting a high tech security makeover.

The system allows watchful eyes to monitor the Stockyards 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It'll likely become the model set up for other stockyards across the U.S.

There are more cattle auctioned off in Oklahoma City than anywhere else in the country, making the Oklahoma National Stockyards a potential target for terrorists.

"It's a significant target," said Director Oklahoma Homeland Security Kerry Pettingill. "It would be an easy target."

Pettingill worries someone could sneak in and infect the cattle with a disease, which could then spread to the public through the food supply.

"I think it's always going to be a threat because we are all going to eat," Pettingill said.

Those concerns led to an intricate system of dozens of security cameras.

"Nobody's touching the camera and nobody's touching controls," said Captain David Baisden of the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department. "It actually zooms right in."

The cameras detect movement and zero in. They also use infrared light to keep watching overnight. They already caught a suspect vehicle leaving the scene of a crime and part of a police chase.

"It would take me 13, 14 different deputies to secure the perimeter of the stockyards," Baisden said. "I'm using technology to do the security for me."

Having the new system gives people in charge of the Stockyards some piece of mind.

"These cameras are amazing," said Rob Fisher of the Oklahoma National Stockyards. "They can film things you just can't imagine them doing, night and day."

Someone at the stockyards and at the Sheriff's office will watch the monitors around the clock. Most of the funding for this came from a $400,000 grant from Homeland Security.