(WXYZ) – Last year, a total of 34 school shootings took place across the country, including one here in Michigan. On November 30, 2021, four students, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling, were killed at Oxford High School and seven other people were injured.
This has once again placed school safety at the center of the attention of parents and educators.
That’s why a Michigan-based company has taken matters into their own hands and introduced a new device, called The SmartBoot, which aims to help children and staff feel safe.
With SmartBoot enabled, doors can withstand much more resistance.
“As a parent you worry about everything – so of course you’re going to worry when they’re in school, but with the training going on and all the things that are being put in place, it makes me feel much more comfortable as a parent,” said Angel Thomas.
For Angel, a mother of three and kindergarten teacher, school safety means everything.
Angel talks about the Taylor School District’s recent announcement to install the SmartBoot system in its schools and offices.
“What we love about it is not just that it will slow down an active shooter. It’s something that really secures the door, people come in, once you put it on, but the level communications, that’s what sold it to me,” Taylor School District Superintendent Griff Mills said.
Mills is referring to the system-connected tablet that allows teachers and officials to communicate in times of distress, which the father-of-three realizes is key.
“Two things I really want for our teachers and our kids is for them to feel safe and supported,” Griff said.
The Advanced Building Lockout System was created right here in Michigan by Lockout USA. Company owner Robert Couturier consulted various law enforcement agencies for the design after his daughter was attacked 13 years ago.
Photo: Product Display, The Lockout Co.
“I really try not to remember those days because it was really hard on my family,” Robert said.
In 2009, during the Thanksgiving holiday, Robert’s oldest daughter, Brenann, was running outside when she was attacked by a stranger. She managed to defend herself and report the incident to the police.
“My dad was actually there when they apprehended the man, that’s where he got the idea for The Boot, because when he was trying to get away from my dad and the law enforcement , he barricaded himself in his apartment building and positioned himself on the ground with his boot against the bottom of the door,” Brenann Couturier-Woodruff said.
Fast forward so far, Brenann, who is also the CEO of the company, claims that a total of 41 districts in Michigan have the entire SmartBoot system.
“I’m proud that we were able to take something so awful and turn it into something that brings positive change for people,” Brenann said.
“Our product will withstand over 16,000 pounds of pressure, so if a gunman tried to attack this piece that has the product – The Boot on it, it would hardly ever go through,” Robert said.
If you would like your child’s school to install this type of equipment, but they need additional funding, the Michigan State Police has a School Safety Grant Program with applications open on next month.