back to press releases

Homeland Security Task Force Issues Recommendations to Legislature

(Oklahoma City) Tougher laws against terrorism, better intelligence gathering capabilities and higher security levels at state facilities are just some of the recommendations made by a special panel that has been investigating Oklahoma's security needs in recent months.

The Joint Homeland Security Task Force released its final report and recommendations at a State Capitol news conference Thursday.

The special panel was created by state legislative leaders in the weeks that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The group of public and private citizens was charged with assessing Oklahoma's vulnerability to a terrorist attack and its ability to respond to such a crisis.

Ken Levit, president of the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa and a former special counsel to the Central Intelligence Agency, served as chairman of the panel. He said task force members held a series of exhaustive hearings that included a broad range of experts from the private sector and all levels of government.

"Because of the stakes involved, we took our charge from legislative leaders very seriously. Task force members did their best to examine the security issues facing Oklahoma and formulate some kind of response to help make our state safer. We can't guarantee that Oklahoma will never again be touched by terrorism, but we can implement protective measures that might decrease the likelihood of such a tragic event," said Levit.

The task force recommendations call for the following actions:

  • Assign coordination of homeland security efforts to one cabinet-level official.

  • Enact laws addressing terrorism and related threats.

  • Enhance state intelligence collection capabilities.

  • Fund the "Digital Drivers License Initiative" - an effort that will help law enforcement authorities access and transfer pertinent security information.

  • Consider legislation granting emergency health powers to the governor and public health authorities that could be used to protect the public in case of emergency.

  • Higher education and vocational training institutions that perform sensitive activities ( i.e. flight training, chemical storage, etc.) should conduct risk management surveys and enhance security.

  • Make minor modifications to the State Open Records and Meetings Acts to exempt intelligence information related to terrorist threats or vulnerability to attack.

  • Develop and fund a plan to upgrade and integrate communications systems for governmental entities that may be called upon to respond to terrorist attacks or incidents.

  • Increase security to protect the state's critical information systems from the threat of cyberterrorism; Work with private sector to accomplish same goal in its arena.

  • Increase security at the Oklahoma State Capitol building.

  • Require periodic assessments of the safety of agriculture, ranching and food safety facilities.

The formal report containing the task force's recommendations is being forwarded to legislative leaders and Governor Keating. In the weeks to come, state lawmakers will be reviewing the recommendations and considering legislation designed to implement them.

The 2002 legislative session convenes on Monday, February 4th.

Contact info
Senate Communications Division - (405) 521-5605