Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Looking to keep our children safe

Harvard resident Doug Frenk wants to protect our children. A 1968 graduate of Harvard High School, Frenk became concerned with the safety of our children in schools after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

“I was driving down the road listening to WGN radio, and they were talking about Sandy Hook – all these innocent people getting killed, and there really is no defense mechanism in schools,” Frenk said.

Frenk is friends with Harvard Police Chief Mark Krause and worked with him on ideas for defense mechanisms for schools. “Schools are the most vulnerable place we have in the country,” Frenk said. “Now they are beginning to lock doors, but most events occur from current students. You really don’t know what the issues are, what can cause the events, so consequently, you have to have something.”

What Frenk and Krause found was the national average for police response time to an active-shooter incident is 7.77 minutes.

“Most events are over in under five minutes,” Frenk said. “The true first responders are the people already in the building. They know where the action is. We know they are the people who are going to respond.”

Frenk started the company Intruder Defense Services and has developed a defense system called Guard Safe. Essentially, a school that would purchase Guard Safe would be issued a fire-resistant security box that is accessible by keycard. The box would contain a modified paint-ball launcher that shoots 15 hard plastic balls per second filled with a microfine pepper powder up to 150 feet. When the balls hit a hard surface, they break and leave a cloud. Also in the box is a level-three ballistic vest, which is similar to what police are issued. The vest is brightly colored and marked guard to easily identify the individual to responders.

To be able to access the box, individuals must receive training, which Frenk estimated would be around eight hours. Further, local responders also would receive notification of the program.

“It’s teaching how to tactfully move, how to respond if someone comes into the building with a gun or a knife,” Frenk said of the training. “We are really trying to buy time, not create Rambos.

“This is a nonlethal system. You can powder them and watch them go down, and you can do it from a safe distance.” Guard Safe was launched at the end of November 2014. Frenk has attended three separate conventions but has not sold any units at this time.

“People, for the most part, have been positive,” Frenk said. “I’ve had some school boards say they would never buy it. I’ve had some that say they don’t want to be the first. We need to find someone to lead the charge.”

Harvard Fire Protection District President Tom Condon said he believes Guard Safe definitely fills a need.

“I think it’s a no brainer,” Condon said. “I’ve watched the doors at the schools, and it wouldn’t be hard to get in the schools. … Maybe it’s never used, and it hangs on the wall forever. That’s the hope.

“We try to get out of the firehouse in 90 seconds. By the time we get there its five to seven minutes. What do you do in the first seven minutes to save lives? This is one more tool in the arsenal to protect the children.”

Frenk said Guard Safe is just another way to keep our schools safe.

“You have fire extinguishers, you have [automated external defibrillators] waiting just in case,” Frenk said. “This is for that critical five minutes that you may end up with some day.”

For information on Intruder Defense Services and Guard Safe, visit