CAMPBELSVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – After 20 years of school shootings, it is a question parents and school officials are asking themselves daily. How do you protect children from an active shooter?
Increased security, cameras, active shooter drills and resource officers have all become common in public schools but Taylor County Superintendent Roger Cook says more can be done.
“I lay awake a lot at night thinking about school safety,” says Cook.
After seeing the aftermath of two teenagers gunned down at Marshall County High School just 3 hours away, Cook began thinking harder about adding yet another security measure.
“If I allowed this to happen on my watch and I didn’t try something, I don’t know if I could live with myself,” says Cook. “It has been happening now for decades these school shootings and I guess the parents here just decided we’ve got to do something. And I felt like I needed to do something,” said Cook.
Cook has spent 41 years in public education. He attends student safety seminars regularly and after doing research on his own found a device he believes may add an extra layer of security to classrooms.
“Many times if a shooter is in the building, it’s too late at that point. All you can do is try to minimize the loss. All the research that I did myself, I just feel like some device to block classroom doors and slow down an active shooter is by far the best thing you can do for that situation,” says Cook.
Cook discovered the Barracuda Intruder Defense System online. The manufacturer Bilco says they teamed up with a military veteran and SWAT team member to create the devices that can be installed in a matter of seconds in emergency situations to protect occupants against building intruders. Different devices work for different types of doors but the goal is to keep the door from being breached from the outside.
“I got to thinking well this is a $25,000 $30,000 initiative. I’m going to ask the community for help.”
Cook made a post on Facebook explaining the device and asking if anyone would sponsor one door for $100 hoping to come up with the funds needed to protect the 254 classroom doors in the district. In a matter of days, the money was raised. Parents, businesses, school staff and students flooded the post each pledging to sponsor a door.
“As soon as I heard about it, I said we’re doing this,” said Scott Chelf, a father of two young boys in the Taylor County School District. “The parents that I have interacted with realize that we are not immune to that and that it can happen and happen quickly.”
Jackie Curtsinger is also a parent and saw the Facebook post by Mr. Cook. She brought the idea to her co-workers at ATT and each chipped in out of their own pockets to sponsor a door.
“What can you do? You can help support. We can come together as a community and donate and do what we can to support our kids,” says Jackie.
Cook has ordered the devices but delays due to high demand mean they won’t arrive until later this month. He hopes to have them installed before summer break so teachers and students can test them during active shooter drills. He plans to mount each device in the classroom so it can be used quickly and efficiently.