(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 once again has put school safety as the center of attention for both parents and educators.
That’s why a Michigan-based company has taken matters into its own hands and introduced a new device, called The SmartBoot, that aims to help kids and staff feel safe.
With The SmartBoot on, doors can handle a lot more resistance.
"As a parent, you are worried about anything — so of course, you are going to worry when they are at school, but with the training that is happening and all the things that are being put into place, it makes me feel much more comfortable as a parent," said Angel Thomas.
For Angel, a mother of three and a kindergarten teacher, school safety means everything.
Angel is talking about Taylor School District's recent announcement to install The SmartBoot system across their schools and offices.
"The thing we love about it, is not just it will slow down an active shooter. It’s something that really secures the door, people getting in, once you put it in, but the level of communication, that’s what sold it to me," said Griff Mills, Taylor School District superintendent.
Mills is referencing the tablet connected to the system that lets teachers and officials communicate during times of distress, something the father of three realizes is essential.
"Two things I really want for our teachers and kids is to feel safe and supported," said Griff.
The advance building lockdown system was created right here in Michigan by Lockout USA. The owner of the company, 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 try really hard not to remember those days as it was really hard for my family," said Robert.
Back in 2009, during Thanksgiving break, Robert’s eldest daughter Brenann was running outdoors when she was attacked by a stranger. She managed to fend off and report the incident to the police.
"My dad was actually there when they were apprehending the man, that’s where he got the idea for The Boot, because when he was trying to get away from my dad and from the law enforcement, he barricaded himself in his apartment building and positioned himself on the floor with his boot up against the bottom of the door," said Brenann Couturier-Woodruff.
Fast forward to now, Brenann, who is also the CEO of the company, says a total of 41 districts in Michigan have the entire SmartBoot system.
"I’m proud that we were able to take something so horrible and turn it into something that’s making a positive change for people," said Brenann.
"Our product will support over 16,000 lbs of pressure, so if a gunman tried to attack that room that has the product — The Boot on it, they virtually will never get through," said Robert.
If you would like your child’s school to install this kind of hardware, but they need extra funding,Michigan State Police has a school safety grant program with applications opening next month.