A simple, safety device called “The Boot,” which can secure doors in a matter of seconds during a school lockdown, has been installed on every classroom door in the Thornapple Kellogg School District.
The product is one of many security-related measures being undertaken around West Michigan this school year, following voter approval of funding for such enhanced safety in several districts.
Other measures include entry way vestibules, cameras and buzz-in systems to admit visitors.
“Just drop it and lock it” is the phrase used to describe how The Boot works. A 30-second video by Shawn Hayward, the district’s operations manager, shows teachers and staff how to operate it. The device is a 10-by-10-inch piece of steel that weighs about five pounds. When it is inserted into two holes drilled into the concrete floor inside the door, the room is secure.
“It’s so simple, yet it’s so effective,” Hayward said.
Thornapple Kellogg spent $84,000 from the bond request voters approved in May to pay for The Boots, which were installed on 329 doors. The device went on doors of rooms occupied throughout the day and any area deemed a safe zone, Hayward said.
Superintendent Tom Enslen said he was “immediately impressed” when he first saw the product. He brought the idea to the school board, and it voted unanimously to purchase the safety equipment. “It was a no-brainer,” Enslen said. Thornapple Kellogg is the only school district so far in the West Michigan to purchase The Boot, officials say.
The inventor of The Boot, Rob Couturier, owner of The Lockdown Company in Okemos, Mich., said he has been overwhelmed with orders, and no school district he has demonstrated the product to has declinedto purchase it.
The motivation for his product came when his daughter was attacked while out running. Courturier created The Boot to keep her safe in her dorm room. When the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 students and teachers happened, he went to work building Boots that would work for schools.
“It’s important we don’t have another Sandy Hook or Columbine,” said Courturier, who has made making schools safe his mission. He’s even created a free financing program and an adopt-a-door program for schools that can’t afford it.
The Boot has been available less than two years and is still patent-pending, he said. The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Public Radio and The New York Times all have featured or mentioned it in school safety stories. The Michigan Sheriff’s Association also has endorsed the product, Couturier said.