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The Oklahoma City Bombing

Oklahoma City Memorial

At 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, the state of Oklahoma and the country as a whole, changed forever. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, was the site of the worst case of domestic terrorism to ever occur on U.S. soil. A truck bomb took the lives of 168 people - family, friends, children, co-workers and neighbors. Timothy McVeigh was arrested, charged, convicted and executed for his role in planning and carrying out the bombing.  

His accomplice, Terry Nichols, was convicted on both federal and state murder charges. He will spend the rest of his life in prison.

In the years following the bombing, domestic preparedness efforts began in ernest. Local and state governments were writing and/or reviewing response plans and the federal government was providing grant funds to purchase equipment. More than a year before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Oklahoma Domestic Preparedness Advisory Group began prioritizing the Department of Justice (DOJ) domestic preparedness grant funds Oklahoma was receiving. The Group began working on a state capability assessment when terrorism resurfaced with devastating clarity. This time Al Qaeda was responsible for the death and destruction.

Beyond September 11, 2001

Recognizing the need for coordinated preparedness and security efforts after 9/11, the Oklahoma Legislature passed Senate Joint Resolution 42 in February 2002, and the Office of Interim Oklahoma Homeland Security Director was created.  A small staff was assembled in July of that year and the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security (OKOHS) began focusing on homeland security efforts within the state.

In January 2004, Governor Brad Henry appointed Kerry Pettingill as the Oklahoma Homeland Security Director. That same month, the Governor sent a letter to the U. S. Department of Homeland Security designating OKOHS as the State Administering Agency (SAA) - the single state agency responsible for the delivery of federal homeland security training, equipment funding and technical assistance.  By that time, a larger staff was coming together just as DHS was initiating a number of new preparedness programs for implementation at the state and local levels. The Oklahoma Legislature passed House Bill 2280 - the Oklahoma Homeland Security Act - in May 2004 which the Governor signed and OKOHS was established in Oklahoma statute.

Download the Oklahoma Homeland Security Act

OKOHS Objectives and Duties

The Oklahoma Homeland Security Act outlined OKOHS's strategic objectives which are to:

  • Prevent a terrorist attack in Oklahoma;
  • Reduce Oklahoma's vulnerability to terrorist attack; and
  • Minimize the damage from and respond to a terrorist attack should one occur.

The duties of the office also include:

  • Developing and implementing a comprehensive statewide homeland security strategy;
  • Planning and implementing a statewide response system;
  • Administering the homeland security advisory system;
  • Coordinating, applying for and distributing federal homeland security grant funds; and
  • Implement national homeland security plans.

The Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security is not intended to be an additional layer of bureaucratic red tape within state government. The focus of the office is singular by design - terrorism by means of a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) or Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or Explosive (CBRNE) device. There are other state agencies with staff that are qualified and trained in their specific area whether it is agriculture, natural disasters or public health. OKOHS functions as a coordinating entity between those agencies to avoid duplication of efforts and conserve limited state and federal resources.

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