NEW HAVEN, CT/April 25, 2019 – The Illinois state Senate passed a bill in early April that will allow schools to add barricades to classroom doors, providing an extra measure to help ensure student safety.
Illinois became the fourth state in the Midwest to allow barricades. Kansas, Michigan and Ohio already allow the barricades, and other states permit individual districts to institute their own security procedures. The Illinois bill must be approved by the state house of representatives and signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker to become law.
The BILCO Company of Connecticut manufactures The Barracuda, a budget-friendly and quickly installed intruder defense system that has been purchased by school districts, businesses, churches, military bases and other groups throughout the country to provide an extra layer of protection against intruders.
“It’s important to note that The Barracuda will not prevent an attack from occurring,’’ said Troy Lowe, CEO of Silverback Safety and designer of The Barracuda. “Its function is to provide an extra layer of protection to those who are unable to remove themselves from the area under attack and find themselves in a situation where they must barricade in place.”
Senator Chapmin Rose sponsored the bill in the Illinois Senate, which had the support of many school superintendents. The legislation was developed in consultation with the state fire marshal’s office and the Illinois State Board of Education.
“This is a simple, affordable, sensible way to secure classrooms and protect students,” Rose said. “Law enforcement trains students, faculty, and staff to barricade in the event of an immediate threat to safety from an intruder into a school. However, Illinois regulations currently prevent schools from investing in locking mechanisms that could protect our children.”
The bill would allow districts to use devices such as The Barracuda, which prevent intruders from entering rooms. Rose’s legislation makes it mandatory that police and fire departments are given a tool to disable the device.
“It is absolutely ridiculous that the existing state rules tell local schools they are not allowed to do everything they can to protect our kids during an intruder situation,’’ Rose said. “Worse, the existing rules fly in the face of what law enforcement teaches and trains every day. This corrects that policy."
Some school leaders and fire code experts have expressed concern about devices such as The Barracuda, because of compliance issues with legislation in the American Disabilities Act and National Fire Protection Association codes.
“In almost every scenario, it’s better to safely barricade yourself where chances are very high a bad guy won’t get in,’’ said Kathy Kelsheimer, MPD, a retired police sergeant and CEO of SisterSheepDog12, a safety training company. She is also the Vice President of Killology Research Group, an Illinois-based safety organization founded by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, U.S. Army (Ret.), one of the nation’s leading safety experts. “More lives will be saved if people are barricaded in a room.”
Kelsheimer said she understands arguments against barricades, but feels they provide the best safety solution. “I understand a lot of experts look at the big picture,’’ she said. “What I look at is the one person in front of me, how much they matter and how much they are loved. Time is of the essence in keeping these kids safe. If it takes two hours to figure out how to disable and get past the barricade, we’ll figure out how to do that. But at least the students will be safe.”
Lowe created The Barracuda as a layer of protection designed to slow down and frustrate attackers, thus buying time for law enforcement to arrive and intervene. It is designed to work in conjunction with a facilities’ Emergency Operations Plans.
The Barracuda can be used on outward and inward swinging doors. The lightweight unit is made with heavy-duty steel construction and is supplied with a wall-mounting rack. It can be installed on doors in under 10 seconds.
“The Barracuda is designed to work with gross motor skills as fine motor skills go out the window in times of crisis,’’ Lowe said. “It provides an additional layer of affordable protection and peace of mind that helps the user respond with a little more confidence should that attack occur. It is applicable for doors in a school, church, business office or warehouse, and can be custom made to fit your door to give an additional layer of protection should you find yourself in a situation where you cannot flee and must barricade in place.”