Martinsville City schools decided to address vulnerability in active shooter situations by enhancing safety with Window Armor shutter system.
The window in a typical classroom door presents a vulnerability because a hostile intruder may break the glass out of the window and try attempt to gain access or extend a weapon into the room.
The city school division decided to install the Window Armor® shutter system, developed by Ken Ratliff, a retired school superintendent in Ohio. The shutter system is constructed of 10-gauge steel and greatly improves the security of the door and the safety of the occupants. Deployed in a lockdown, the shutter slides effortlessly over the window and automatically locks into place.
“We took a lot of time simulating what could happen in an active shooter situation and kept circling back to how easy it would be for the shooter to break the window and enter a room,” said T.J. Slaughter, director of School Safety. “It’s like a bulletproof vest for the classroom. Ken hired a security company to test the design. They shot at it, beat it with the butt of guns, you name it, nothing got through the shutter.”
School lock-down drills, also known as “Active Shooter Drills,” are required by law and have become commonplace in public schools across the nation. The intent of these drills is to prepare staff and students to protect themselves if faced with this dangerous situation. In accordance with state law, a lockdown drill must be performed at least two times each school year. All schools need to conduct lockdown drills at least once during the first 20 school days of each school session.
“My job is to slow down an active shooter as much as possible until law enforcement arrives,” said Slaughter. “This significantly hinders a shooters ability to put our students, faculty, and staff in danger. The addition of the shutter system alongside our gunshot detection system and panic alarms gives us another layer of protection and I’m thrilled about that.”
“I love how simple and effective this is,” said Martinsville High School Resource Officer Shane McPeek. “What’s great is that teachers or a student can deploy the shutter quickly during lockdown drills and in an active shooter situation.”
Research shows that the safest place to be in an armed assailant type situation is inside a locked room. As with any active assailant strategy, lockdowns are an important component of an options-based plan. It’s highly likely many students and staff will be “locked down” in classrooms. As a result, it’s vitally important for classroom doors to be secure and keep the intruder out.
Statistically, the likelihood of an active shooter event is rare, but it is important to use these drills and resulting discussions to address vulnerabilities and revise procedures, so school safety plans keep students and staff safe and provide peace of mind to parents and the community.