Mother of bombing victim seeks more disclosure on day-care centers

Tuesday, May 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- "Baylee's Law" would not have changed her decision in choosing the day-care center at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Aren Almon-Kok concedes.

But it would have given her a complete picture, said Almon-Kok, whose year-old daughter, Baylee Almon, died in the 1995 Murrah bombing.

"I took my daughter there thinking it was the safest building. It turned out not to be the case," Almon-Kok said Monday outside a day-care center in the Rodino Federal Building.

A picture of Baylee's limp body being carried from the rubble of the Murrah building by a firefighter became a symbol of the bombing.

Almon-Kok said parents whose children attend day-care centers in federal buildings should be given more information about those buildings.

She endorsed "Baylee's Law," which would require the agency that runs federal buildings to tell parents of any threats to those buildings, as well as what tenants are in the building, and the security designation of the building.

"I had no idea that was a high-risk federal building," Almon-Kok said. She chose it because it was across the street from her home, but never learned it was the target of several bomb threats, Almon-Kok said.

She appeared with Rep. Robert Franks, R-N.J., who was to introduce the bill Tuesday.

"This legislation can provide a new level of protection for the 7,600 children who are now being cared for at child-care centers located in 114 federal buildings across the country," said Franks, chairman of the House public buildings subcommittee.

Federal buildings are rated one to five on security risk, with all courthouses getting a five, the highest rating, said Franks, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Senate in next month's primary election.

Parents whose children attended the Murrah center did not know it "housed a variety of federal agencies that are often the target of terrorist threats -- including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ..."

A building directory is insufficient notice, Franks said.

Asked if potential terrorists would target low-rated buildings because the facility might have less protection, Franks said, "We don't believe it compromises security merely to disclose that."

The Rodino day-care center, which tends to about 46 children a day, is rated four, said its director, Lisa Russo-Parone.

She said about half the children have parents who work in the building, which has offices for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Attorney.

The federal courthouse is across a street that, along with others in the area, has been closed to traffic since the Oklahoma bombing that killed 168. The ATF is based in another location.

Security rankings were implemented after the Oklahoma bombing, said Renee Miscione, a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, which oversees 8,300 federal buildings.

The agency will not comment until it has reviewed the proposed law, she said.

Almon-Kok is now spokeswoman for the Protecting People First Foundation, a private group created by a Rhode Island company that sells and installs shatterproof glass to raise awareness about the deadly effects of flying glass caused by a bombing or natural disaster.

She praised the Rodino day-care center for installing such protection, and Franks said all 114 centers in federal buildings would get similar upgrades.


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