MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Enduring bomb shelter drills and routine concerns about his and his family’s safety in Israel, it’s no surprise a few years ago Omer Barnes realized he needed to do something to keep his children safe at school.
His epiphany came when he learned about the active shooter drills his kids endured.
“I knew there were some lockdown drills but I didn’t know what they were going through,” Barnes said.
Barnes feared the lockdown drills would traumatize children and he decided to focus his business — Remo Security Doors — on installing bullet-resistant doors in schools.
“It isn’t really a door,” Barnes said. “It’s a safety device.”
In a series of promotional videos, Barnes says the doors can turn a classroom into a safe room within seconds. All it takes is the turning of a lock, he says, and for children to sit safely in a hard corner in the classroom.
“The whole idea is to create a safe room where kids can hide in seconds and be safe,” Barnes told CBS4 News in a recent interview.
The doors look like regular doors, can be installed in an hour and they have a unique locking mechanism.
“The biggest component of the door is really the lock — the locking mechanism that nobody can go through the door,” he said. “Even if the door is not fully ballistic, you can’t shoot yourself in. You can’t shoot through the glass, as it’s ballistic and you can’t shoot at the lock and if you do shoot at the lock, you’re going to jam it.”
Barnes acknowledges that no door is truly bulletproof because he says if a shooter focused on a single area of the door with repeated rounds, a bullet might eventually penetrate the door. However, Barnes said the doors are reliable and will stop a high capacity round.
“They will stop an assault weapon,” he explained.
Right now, Barnes said the doors are in 40 school districts across the United States and Barnes said he has had recent conversations with several South Florida schools about the products. The biggest impediment to a widespread installation appears to cost. Barnes said the doors start at $2,500 installed but since schools already have doors it might be too steep a price to pay with limited resources. Barnes believes you cannot put a price on safety.
“It doesn’t come as cheap as a $10 dollar fix,” he said. “But If you look at the result of it, if you look at what you achieve by having this product, it’s game-changing.”
Max Schachter, whose son, Alex, was murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, agrees that if money were no object, bullet-resistant doors would be ideal.
“We look at the numbers and it’s just very very expensive,” Schachter said. “For Marjory Stoneman Douglas, it would cost anywhere from $600,000 to a million dollars just for that one school.”
Schachter, who has studied school security extensively and helped create the new federal clearinghouse of school security information, schoolsafety.gov, believes schools need to harden. He also believes a broad-based and holistic approach is needed so a gun never even gets onto a school campus.
“We’ve got to look at this way ahead of time at children who are exhibiting concerning behavior and get them the help they need and get them off their pathway to violence,” he said.
Barnes believes the bullet-resistant doors are effective, will lead to fewer scary drills for schoolchildren and will reinforce to a potential school shooter that campuses are an impenetrable target.
“For kids to know, educators to know there is a place they can go to, which is their classroom, to know they can to this place and be safe, is paramount,” Barnes said. “It’s a life-changing concept.”