Oklahoma holds a special place in the history of homeland security. The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 people. This is still the most lethal domestic terrorism attack in the nation’s history. The Oklahoma City bombing not only changed national policies regarding domestic terrorism but exemplified how even the most remote areas of America’s heartland could become a target for extremists.
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Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security
In the aftermath of the 1995 bombing and the attacks on September 11,2001, Oklahoma has instituted sweeping changes in its homeland security programs. The Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security (OKOHS) is responsible for preventing terrorist attacks, identifying and remedying state weaknesses, and minimizing the impact of any attacks. OKOHS is also tasked with adapting national directives and policies to state initiatives. This agency has a narrow focus upon only nuclear, biological, chemical, explosive, radiological or Weapon of Mass Destruction attacks.
OKOHS works in collaboration with county and local governments to optimize readiness and protections. The state currently operates a network of 113 agencies throughout the state. These agencies constitute the Oklahoma Regional Response System. Some of these units are specialized to respond to a specific type of threat while others provide support services like communications or training. The OKOHS provides training resources and guidelines provided by Homeland Security’s Training and Exercise Integration Division.
How to Become a Homeland Security Professional in Oklahoma
Many of the homeland security jobs in Oklahoma are sponsored by private corporations which perform vital services. One of these critical areas is the operation of air traffic control systems and Raytheon is a key employer of air traffic controllers. In a recent job posting for an Air Traffic Control Optimum Training Solution Certified Instructor, the minimum requirements for this position included:
- Possession of a bachelor’s degree
- Completion of FAA Air Traffic Control Operations training
- Knowledge of radar and non-radar operations
- At least five years of experience as a Certified Professional Controller
- Certification as an Air Traffic Controller
- Experience as an instructor in classrooms and laboratories
- Certification as an On-the-Job Instructor
- Three years as an in-service instructor
- Knowledge of current practices in NAS
While not all homeland security careers in Oklahoma require this level of education and experience, the majority of employers do expect extensive knowledge of specific industries.
Training for homeland security jobs in Oklahoma can be found through a variety of portals. The units with the Oklahoma Regional Response System must complete training Hazardous Materials Operations, Rope Operations I & II, Structural Collapse Operations, Trench Rescue, and Confined Space Rescue.
OKOHS is currently in the process of developing a statewide credentialing system for a wide range of emergency responder professions and agencies. The Emergency Responder Credentialing System should soon be implemented, allowing public and private organizations to put in place standards for homeland security professionals.