Tulsa Schools Security Experiment

Thursday, September 28th 2006, 8:42 pm
By: News On 6

An attack at a school in Colorado on Wednesday makes people re-focus on the security at their own schools, in their own towns. That's why the News on 6 did an experiment Thursday to randomly test security at two Tulsa high schools.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says we wanted to see if a grownup could get into a school and if so, how long it would be until he was confronted. We chose the two high schools closest to the News on 6, Rogers High and Booker T.

The bad news is, we got inside both. The good news, once he was discovered, the reaction was immediate and well rehearsed.

News on 6 employee Kyle Kabrick carried a handy cam with him that was partly hidden by a jacket slung over his arm. He approached Rogers High first. We asked him to go in the main entrance of the school. Kyle's instructions were to walk around until someone confronted him. He was then to explain who he worked for and what we were doing.

Kyle made it to the third floor of the school, but had been inside less than five minutes, when a security guard approached him.

Guard: "How ya doing?"
Kyle: "Doing good, how about you?"
Guard: "The question is, what are you doing?"
Kyle: "Pardon me?"
Guard: "What's this for?"
Kyle: "I'm with channel 6."

Kyle was allowed to call me so I could verify his identity, and then was escorted to the office. I talked to the staff, which was very nice and professional.

Our next stop was Booker T Washington and this time, we decided to try a side door rather than the main entrance. The first doors he tried were locked. The next set of doors say 'emergency entrance and exit only', but one was open and Kyle went inside. He walked the halls and went to different floors of the school.

He passed some students in the halls and even asked for directions.

Kyle: "Where's the office?"
Student: "Take the stairs."
Kyle: "Where's the stairs?"
Student: "Right there."
Kyle: "Thank you."

Kyle was in the school about 10 minutes. Once he was spotted and didn't have the required ID badge, the school was put on immediate lockdown. "We have an IOC alert, we have an IOC alert, take cover."

Upon hearing the alert, Kyle walked toward a security guard who detained him until school leaders arrived.

Woman: "Can we help you?"
Kyle: "Sure, I'm with channel 6 and Lori Fullbright."
Woman: "What's the camera?"
Kyle: "We're doing a story on the Columbine, I mean, the Colorado incident."
Woman: "Turn the camera off."

Kyle was handcuffed and searched and Tulsa Police were called. He was allowed to call me, but we couldn't get inside since the school was on lockdown for 30 minutes or so.

Kyle was released and the News on 6 sat down with the head of security for Tulsa Public Schools, who had a mixed reaction to our experiment. Tulsa Public Schools’ head of security Jack Arnold: "There are some things we need to improve on and we learned that from the experiment." However, he was concerned because the school feared it actually had an intruder, which can be a scary and dangerous situation. He says the door we entered is supposed to be locked, but had been propped open.

He wished Kyle had been spotted sooner, but says once he was; the response was just like they practice. "Students and staff respond to a fire drill or an intruder drill immediately. It's not chaos, it's very quick and very quiet and it's done so we can secure the building and it works very well."

The schools work with police and emergency agencies to be prepared for any threat and work hard at security, but even with great planning and training, nothing is 100 percent full proof. "It's not a perfect system. Can we have this same kind of a problem at a hospital or a mall or a business or a television station? The honest truth is yes, it could happen."

Tulsa Public School's superintendent said the schools would not press charges against Kyle for trespassing, which could happen to someone caught on school grounds without permission.

The News on 6 does wish the kids on lockdown could've been notified more quickly there was no threat. Lori Fullbright had called Jack Arnold before Kyle was spotted inside Booker-T. So when the school called the security office, Arnold was able to tell them immediately, the intruder was most likely a News on 6 employee.

Managers at the News on 6 say they were not trying to make anyone look bad. They know the schools work hard at security, and there has never been a major incident here.

And KOTV apologizes if the experiment upset some school leaders or students. But if it keeps a door from being propped open and keeps students safer, it was worth it.