By ALLISON REAMER
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and all county and city schools are teaming up to be the first in Ohio to install a barricade device on each classroom door to prevent entry in emergency situations.
On Friday, the sheriff’s office and schools made the final decision to go forward with the $420,000 project, which will put a barricade on over 1,840 doors, officials said.
A fundraising campaign will be launched to pay for the project.
“We need to protect our kids,” Hancock County Sheriff Michael Heldman said. “We never know when someone is going to walk into that school … Why should innocent kids be subjected to violence?”
Thirty-one schools, including all Findlay City Schools and all county schools, including private institutions, will be covered, authorities said.
The barrier, called “The Boot,” is a rectangular-shaped steel plate with two steel pegs. The device is mounted on the bottom of a classroom door, explained Rob Couturier, president and owner of The Lockdown Co. of Fowlerville, Michigan, which makes the device. Two holes are drilled into the floor, and when the steel pegs are lowered into those holes, the door cannot be opened.
“It’s an important separation, it’s an important barricade,” Couturier said. “It’s quick and easy to install, a matter of seconds.”
There is a release mechanism that allows safety personnel to enter a room that has been “locked down.”
The concept of the barrier was developed about four years ago with the help of police, Couturier said.
The barrier, which weighs less than 5 pounds, can sustain over 16,000 pounds of pressure and a “large amount of gun blasts,” Couturier said.
“What we’re trying to do is create time,” he said. “If something should happen, the person trying to get in any of the doors is just not going to be able to do it.”
Hancock County schools will be the first in Ohio to receive the equipment, though it is already used in over 100 school districts in Michigan, Couturier said.
Sheriff Heldman said he learned about the product from a Findlay resident, Ron Pehrson.
“I was impressed,” Heldman said. “I was really sold on it when I saw the piece of equipment because it’s a heavy steel … and it has some substance to it. When you have something going into the floor and something backing it, nobody’s going to penetrate that door without some real force from the outside.”
On Friday, Hancock County Educational Service Center Superintendent Larry Busdeker and Findlay City Schools Superintendent Ed Kurt said they both support the project.
Busdeker said it was a “no-brainer” way to ensure the safety of students.
“It’s a real simple, but yet effective way to protect our students and staff in the classrooms,” he said. “It’s also very economical. It’s a real win-win for us.”
Kurt said students and staff will have to be trained on use of the barrier, just like any other safety device.
More than 820 barriers will be installed in Findlay City Schools, Kurt said.
“… I just want to do what’s right for the kids and this just feels like it’s right, not just for the kids, but for the safety of everyone,” Kurt said.
An “Adopt a Door” fundraising effort will begin for the barriers, which cost about $200 apiece. Once the fundraising efforts hit one-third of the total, The Lockdown Co. will begin installation of the barriers, Heldman said.
Heldman said he hopes to have the barriers in place and funding completed by spring.
Donations can be made at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, 200 W. Crawford St., or at http://www.crimepreventionfhc.com/the-boot
An informational meeting will be held at a later date.
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By ALLISON REAMER