301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

2.20.24 – Brodie Myers – KJRH – TULSA, Okla

School safety-related legislation often deals with locking mechanisms, heavier doors, or more security guards.

House Bill 3860, The School Safety Interoperability Fund, is taking a different approach, emphasizing the information aspect. The act would work as sort of a middleman. It would provide money to link schools’ walkie-talkies and surveillance videos directly to law enforcement.

“I know firsthand our law enforcement, our school employees are number one when it comes to taking care of kids,” said Rep. Ross Ford, who filed the legislation.

Before voters sent Ford to office, he was director of security at Union Public Schools, so he knows how crucial information can be in a crisis situation. While writing this bill, he was reminded of a false alarm situation.

A friend in law enforcement called him, saying he was en route to an active shooter situation. Ford was at the scene and knew it was a false alarm. Nothing was going on around him.

That had the most positive outcome possible, but Ford is “not naïve enough to think that we couldn’t have something happen in one of our schools.”

Now he’s asking for the funding.

The bill passed unanimously through subcommittee. For now, Ford is calling it a skeleton. He is not sure how much money will be needed or from where it will come. He wants lawmakers on board with the concept.

“Public, private, charter school, it doesn’t really matter school kids are school kids, and we’re doing everything possible to keep them safe,” Ford said.

The system would not be a constant monitor of schools. When a situation is called into law enforcement, employees at the station can flip a switch to get eyes and ears on the scene.