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Locally invented product designed to make classrooms safer

Posted at 12:35 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 23:27:24-04

WAUKESHA COUNTY -- School districts across Wisconsin are spending millions of dollars in grant money to improve safety in their buildings, but a local company is offering a new invention that can make a classroom safer for right around 30 dollars. 

Graduates of Kettle Moraine High School are behind the product, called Safe-Latch. Manufactured in Hartford and first tested in the K-M School District,  Safe-Latch is now in every building there and in schools in 16 other states and Canada as well. 

The product is manufactured at Glenn Hepfner, Inc. It is a piece of laser cut steel about 1 millimeter thick. The final product attaches to a door frame, and slides in and out of position. Many doors in schools have handles that require a key to lock, and often from the outside. With Safe-Latch, anyone can quickly secure a door, even without a key.

Waukesha County Sheriff’s Deputy James Soneberg is the school resource officer at K-M, and he’s a big fan of Safe-Latch. “In itself, what it does… is it gives us crucial seconds. It saves time. For people to be able to lock their doors right away and in a lockdown situation you want to be able to save as many seconds as possible to get people into a safe position,” Soneberg said.

Nick Hoffman is co-owner of a security solutions company in Wales, and a Kettle Moraine graduate. Administrators at Nick’s alma mater became his product test partners, and he worked to perfect the device, invented by a fellow KM grad. 

Simply getting new door handles would seem an obvious alternative, but with 700 doors district-wide, new handles at $300 apiece, replacements would have cost K-M nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Safe-Latch is on virtually every door in the district now, for a total cost of about $12,000.

Safe-Latch devices sell for about $30 apiece, and the company says they are already in use in 130 school districts. For more information on the product, you can check out the Safe-Latch website.