Sheriff wants The Boot in every classroom. Classroom safety donation campaign underway.

October 1, 2015

Earlier today, a shooter entered a community college in Oregon. At least 15 people are reported dead with more injured. Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole said, in response, that Mason County is not exempt from the possibility of such an event occurring here, but he has a plan to help deter a shooter.

See MCP’s exclusive story on Victory Early Childhood Center’s installment in June here.

In June, Mason County Central’s Victory Early Childhood Center became the first school building in Mason County to have an advanced intruder deterrent system installed in each classroom and office. The device, called The Boot, is a steel object that is placed over the threshold on the inside of a room and prevents the door from being opened or closed.

Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole was impressed with the device and stated at the time that he would like to see it installed in every school in the county. An effort is now being made to follow the sheriff’s hope. The Mason County School Safety Planning Committee has started a donation campaign to help fund the devices.

The school safety planning committee includes representatives from each school in Mason County (private, public and West Shore Community College), members of Michigan State Police, Scottville Police Department, Ludington Police Department, Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Mason County Emergency Management, Life EMS and Mason/Oceana 911.

The committee is seeking donations to outfit every classroom door in Mason County with The Boot. The Adopt a Door campaign is asking for any dollar amount to help fund the program. At this time, no school has offered to use its own funds for the program, Cole said, meaning the program relies completely on donations.

The cost to install the device into each school will cost a total of $135,000 (not including West Shore Community College), Cole said. “To totally secure the schools, we would need closer to $305,000,” Cole said, again, excluding WSCC.

“Our goal is to keep our kids safe,” Angie Taylor, director of Victory Early Childhood Center said when the devices were installed in her building in June. “I saw a demonstration of this product recently and knew we needed this for our schools. Victory has always been a leader in childhood education and we wanted to be a leader in safety too.

“We have always been trained that in case of an intruder in the school we needed to darken the room and huddle everyone in a corner,” Taylor said. “This device now allows our teachers the opportunity to make the decision to stay in the room or exit out an exterior door, and run.”

Cole said the device is a “game changer” for school safety.

“This device buys the school employees and the children time and space,” Sheriff Cole said. “It allows law enforcement time to get to the school during a crisis.”

In addition to The Boot, ballistic shields were installed at the entrance doors of Victory. The shields are decorative with the school logo on them. However, they can withstand a variety of bullet calibers. The company also installed reflective room number placards too. The placards are staggered up and down which allows first responders an easy way to identify room numbers.

“When emergency personnel respond to buildings, such as schools, it’s often difficult to identify the exact location of the emergency,” Cole said. “These placards are designed to be highly reflective, allowing our LED lights to shine on them.”

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children,” Cole said. “This is a subject that is dear to me and was one of my goals when I took office. The area schools have made great strides in the past few years to secure their buildings and to train their staff and students on what to do in case of a shooter incident. This mechanism is the most impressive device I have seen to date. One of our officers attempted to bust open one of the school’s classroom doors and couldn’t do it. He pretty much used all his force.”

Those wishing to make a tax deductible donation may send a check to Friends of the Sheriff’s Office Fund, Community Foundation for Mason County, PO Box 10, Ludington, MI 49431.