Classroom Closer Lock Illegal

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Oct 28, 2014

Keeping classrooms locked against intruders is one the most urgent security priorities today. With terrible active shooting events in schools in the mind of many administrators, a teacher has developed 'The Sleeve', a bracket that slides over a door's closer.

Many herald the devices as an example of ingenuity, and a valuable low-cost add that enhances school security. However, not only is the device unsafe, it violates many life/safety codes, and potentially cause a much bigger tragedy that it ever prevents.

In the note, we examine The Sleeve's problems, explain why it is a risk, and list safe alternatives.

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Comments (40)

Great comments on why NOT to install this device. One other code it violates is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which dictates the height range of any locking device. The closer is not within this range, and installation of this device would subject most teachers to use of a desk or other non-safe means of reaching the closer.

As schools drill for potential emergencies, a lock-down drill using this device may result in one broken leg or worse in each school.

Time to bring back the $3000 bullet proof bookcase!!!!

Thoughts on existing use with safety upgrades:

Application shown, but no 'in use' demonstration. Ergo actual door movement. How much play that may allow a means to jimmy the door open for a muzzle to point through..

But. Big but? If Solid (no door movement allowed):

A) Then where are the sleeves stored? One example shows two doors requiring differnet sleeves? Mix up possible. Resolved with B AND C?

B) Storage by a chain/rope attached to the frame connected to the sleeve in a frame storage pocket.

C) The attached chain/rope allows removal with the ability to pull the sleeve off with the chain/rope. May require a pully attaced to the door frame opposite the sleeve so a simple down ward tug could disengage the sleeve. Of course It should not drop on someones head either.

Not offering a complete solution just seeds for further investigation that others may build on.

A simple bolt lock would be even cheaper than this sleeve.

That wouldn't solve the primary safety issues, of course, but this sleeve seems like it's going to be rather limited in application and practicality anyway.

The problem with a bolt lock in a school

Teacher walks outside. Student locks door.

We do a lot of security for schools, the bolt locks with a thumb turn just don't work out well. Double sided cylinders would work.

And technically this thing could be used the same way, unless it's kept hidden or locked in the room (which makes it that much more cumbersome to deploy).

I would likely wrap the door closer with my belt in an active shooter scenario. If someone is shooting down the hallway from my room, I am not too concerned about violating the ADA or my pants falling down.

"For every problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and WRONG."

Stupid? Yes

Illegal? .....

Given the following typical scenario, state exactly when would something illegal occur, by whom and what would that illegal thing be?

  1. Teacher gets the SLEEVE as a gift from anonymous donor.
  2. Teacher reads instructions and hides the SLEEVE in desk.
  3. Teacher teaches for years with the SLEEVE at the ready.
  4. Teacher hears gunshots and is notified of an active shooter on campus.
  5. Teacher deploys the SLEEVE on door closer and gunman passes.

Only #5 clearly violates the statute you refer to above, and everyone would admit the unlikeliness of an such an event ever occurring and the greater unlikeliness of anyone ever being criticized, let alone cited, about its use in such a case. Maybe a different statute would cover the other cases?


4. Teacher hears fireworks set-off in hall, figures active shooter on prowl.

5. Teacher deploys sleeve and gets kids and self as far away from the door as possible.

6. Fireworks start blaze, teacher tells them kids to stay under cover, etc.

My guess is #5 probably gets more than 'criticized'.

What's to stop a potential 'active shooter' purchasing or fabricating one of these and carrying it to the school along with his AK47, body armor and spare mags? Then he can lock himself in a classroom full of kids.

Active shooter scenarios have been addressed in depth by the FBI who are continually updating the protocols that schools are to follow and these are usually enforced at a State Education Board level. I'm sure they don't appreciate these amateur 'McGuyver' solutions which endanger children as well as LEO's.

Great point. Another McGuyver thought/idea the FBI can feed into the protocal sceneario?

And, those protocals could very well been seeded with McGuverish thoughts. They weren't packaged in a vacuum. Only a few privilged folk get to know?

Including a link(s) to such (FBI protocals) might be enlightening also.

Consider ALL information valuable!

ALthough some may be ignored/riduculed. Because? It might seem too 'McGuverish'?

The more we stifle inovation...

Yada yada yada, ...Cal

"Active shooter scenarios have been addressed in depth by the FBI who are continually updating the protocols that schools are to follow and these are usually enforced at a State Education Board level."

Where did you pull this inaccurate information from? The FBI, along with Homeland Security and FEMA, is a great asset for Active Shooter, but not the way you are saying.

Here is what Lori Green says about some of these devices: Check out the video of the cable device. Its so bad, i sent an email to the news guy about the piece

I voted "Good idea". My thinking is that the sleeve would be kept in a secure place inside the classroom and staff would be properly trained on when & how to use it and when to remove it. In the heat of the moment in an active shooter event, time is of the essence and placing obstacles like this will likely cause the shooter outside to move onto the next door &/or area of the school. I don't see them standing there outside of one door trying to figure out why it won't open & then shooting thier way through it unless there is a particular person they're after and they know that person is in that room which I don't think has been the pattern.

When the alarm sounds, typically an announcement goes out over the school wide PA system so the teacher would pretty quickly know its active shooter versus fire so I wouldn't worry so much about that.

Part of purchasing something like this should include a complete inspection of all the closers to ensure they are properly attached and in working order and that should be a regular maintainance procedure for the janitorial staff to check them.

If the building code is adhered to at all other times and only violated if/when an active shooter situation arises, I would think an exception would be made however, it might not be a bad idea for this company to take proactive steps to ask for an amendment to the code to include emergency measures like the Sleeve as approved under active shooter situations.

You gave more expensive alternatives but the schools just don't have any money. A $65.00 solution they might be able to get from the Booster Club. A $250.00 + solution is less likely to get funding from anyone including the Booster Club. If the Sleeve gives them a low cost method of securing the door - I say, work out the details (code compliance, maintenance etc) and let them buy it.

You can’t work out the code details because the code is quite clear. You are not allowed to do anything that takes special knowledge or skills to exit the door. There is also the problem of AUTHORIZED entry. If you put blocks on the door, the cops will find it difficult to expediently enter.

There are a lot of solutions better than this one (can you imagine a 5 year old trying to get this thing off the door?).... and significantly less expensive; But alas, many of these are also illegal. Remember your not putting this thing on one door; if you make the decision.... it could be thousands! I am not willing to trade one problem for another. I’ve see a lot of these makeshift devices, including door blockers and magnets or devices which block the latchbolt from extending into the strike (which, by the way, could also be illegal if the door is rated) so you can simply keep the door locked all the time; but this one ranks right up there as the lamest one (no offense intended for the inventor).

One last thing: Most classrooms have windows near the door. A bit of window film could help here but a $15 psf, it may also be a bit expensive.

Remember your not putting this thing on one door; if you make the decision.... it could be thousands!

Remember your not putting this thing on one door unless gunner comes down hall with the ammo to fire, firing to shoot, shooting to kill.

Teach your teacher's well - use it for only if or when and only there and then.

Reversed question: in the 'states' can principle or teacher not allowed carry conceal gun/small pistola if licensed?

About half of our states a teacher can have a concealled gun on them. However, if a sign on the school prohibits guns at the entrance to the school, then they could get nailed for tresspassing.

With all due respect, what I meant by working out the code details was working with AHJ to determine if using this device instead of moving a desk & chairs in front of the door as suggested by Homeland Security & ALICE Training Institute (according to Jeremiah) would be at leasst as acceptable as the desk & chairs approach. My point was to have it in the teachers desk or something, have the teacher well trained on its usage (when, how) and then understand that in an active shooter event, not all the i's are going to be dotted or the t's crossed to conform with "code". As a mother & grandmother, I say the hell with the code if you can protect the life of my child.

I am interested to hear more about the other solutions you mention that are less expensive and, if I read it right, a 5 year old can remove. Can you reach out to me off line at Thanks

I see a lot of good comments in here that pertain to the security industry and how things are done. However, I will point out that Active Shooter is a very different situation than most security situations and even past Active Shooter situations.

There are 2 main ways on "how to respond" to an active shooter incident (There are a couple more, but these 2 are the most common) Schools and Businesses can choose their response type.

They are

Homeland Security

  1. Evacuate
  2. Hide out
  3. Take Action Against Active Shooter

ALICE Training Institute

  1. Alert
  2. Lockdown
  3. Inform
  4. Counter
  5. Evacuate

The comment (Above) about how the FBI enforces Active Shooter protocols with State Education Board's and schools is false. The FBI does have protocols for law enforcement and first responders on how to react to an Active Shooter incident.

Other comments (Similar) - "Cops can't enter quickly into a room if this device is on the door." - Cops should not be able to enter into a room quickly. The 2 main Active Shooter responses want you to barricade the doors closed. Use anything you have to keep the doors closed like desks, furniture and etc.

Active Shooter is all about profiling, preparing/planning and drilling before an incident even takes place. The security surveillance professional still has a spot in helping to prepare (Access Control and etc.). However, if you want to be an Active Shooter expert to a school with advice or consult, you need to get up to date on Active Shooter Training and Responses. Some of the statements you read above would make a school administrator and/or law enforcement officer cringe and would probably look elsewhere for advice and possibly security work.


Active Shooter is completely different from other security situations and even Active Shooter situations in the past. It is even vastly different for law enforcement.

The issue here is about a simple thing: Should add hoc door devices that violates Code be placed on the door. Although i agree with you about the whole barricade thing, devices that are intentionally built to accomplish this that violate code are to be discouraged. I have read literally 100s of documents (some very large documents i might add) and have been involved in advising clients on security matters... including active shooter responses.. for well over 30 years. I have been part of the discussion about this issue personally with the top school security professionals, Architectural Hardware Consultants, DHI, CSI and my own contemporaries, and none recommend the use of these devices. Clearly, we are all aware that in an active shooter situation, the rule book goes out the window. And we all agree that training and procedure are the hallmark of a good response. But for the same reason chains can no longer be used on exit doors, we should not encourage Code violations as a means to protect our kids.

As a minor point there are other devices that can be fitted to the door that are less a code issue, and they cost a heck of a lot less than this ridiculous closer apparatus.

I'm not worried about the device at this point. I'm more worried about your opinion on Active Shooter about police needing to "expediently enter" a room and your opinion stating "we should not encourage Code Violations as a means to protect our kids". These are dangerous statements. They also go against all the main guideline's during an active shooter event.

When an Active Shooter incident goes down and you cannot evacuate, you and others need to do everything you can to barricade that door with any objects you can find. Items such as desks, chairs, couches and etc..

All this is covered in Active Shooter education classes. After studying the past active shooter events in great detail, you can easily see why this is done. Study the Virginia Tech shooting with " him" going around to classrooms and offices. Now tell me why we should worry about the Code Violations when we have a killer trying to kill us.

Active Shooter is a very important topic. The reason I'm so sensitive about this is because a majority of people\organizations are not prepared for this and any misinformation can lead to a greater tragedy.

Also of note. Homeland Security recommends locking and barricading your room for Active Shooter.

Devices like 'The Sleeve' foster a poor perception of security, on top of being potentially dangerous.

For example, at Sandy Hook, the front door was locked when the shooter arrived. He used a firearm to shoot his way past the door into the facility.

There is simply no guarantee a lock of any type will stop an active shooter. Initial reaction and response are so precious, putting a device like this in a teacher's hand potentially just wastes valuable time and emphasizes installing a device that falsely conveys safety. The time installing The Sleeve is time distracting from more effective reactions.

The bottom line: devices like this are significantly more likely to be abused than for their intended purpose.  (ie: Bullies - "Let's keep the teachers out why we beat on a kid in an empty classroom.") Using them to lock teachers / authorities out of an area is why common storeroom function or office function locks aren't just used instead. 

Furthermore, If a school doesn't 'have the money' to responsibly address door hardware issues, I'll argue that spending money on an item like this is even more irresponsible.  Cheaper products like the $50 'Bearacade' are available.  (albeit with same risks.)  But maybe your AHJ will be impressed by the sign you're supposed to hang nearby:

Thankfully, the probability of an active shooting event is pretty slim. However, the propagation of devices like 'The Sleeve' as an answer introduces new (and statistically more probable) risks.  

For example, at Sandy Hook, the front door was locked when the shooter arrived. He used a firearm to shoot his way past the door into the facility. There is simply no guarantee a lock of any type will stop an active shooter.

S.H. is good example for use Sleeve, not against

Just to clarification, this door lock was not shot past, door did not fail, but forced shootster to shoot round after round thru seperate plate glassed window, taking his precious time and ammos. Still This sound of racketed commotion was first alert to staff that something was 'up' and her to make 911 call. Had been able to get in without sound, and fling open staff doors unannounced, call might be not be made and delayed police.

And, no one behind locked inside door (and there were many) was killed. No inside door was shot-clean-thru or shot-up at all. Main part of people died in first pair unlocked classrooms in school. Shooting ended when Cops get to School.

So here this case, if shooter had been delayed more, (ok not possible to definately stop), more people to live, i think.

At Sandy Hook, a locked door failed to keep the shooter out. Unfortunately, everyone killed that day was not kept safe by a locked door.

Expecting the door to stop events like this is a poor expectation.

At Sandy Hook, a locked door failed to keep the shooter out.

Treu, but remember: schoolhouse brick walls, also were dissapointing failure in keeping shooter out.

If someone expect locked door to keep people from breaking some other window somewhere else, we got big problem.

Locked door accomplish its mission, stay lock. Apologize to door.;)

It slowed gunnerman and save lives, had to go for second choice, messy, loud kaboom entrance.

If sleeving door did as good mission and just stay sleeved then could help bunch of kids, in this case, yes or no? You dont ever say, i dont care if you should expect it to save live or shouldnt, as long as it does.

but then if badguy come down thru ceiling panel, dont blame sleeves

Your confusing first defense security with Active Shooter security. This is very common in our security industry. It is something we need to figure out and work with Federal, state and local law enforcement with while keeping an open mind and not the know-it-all attitude that we know everything about security.

We would not be talking about Active Shooter if first line security worked well with complex thinkers. I keep hearing solutions, above, on how we can fix things with traditional physical security, yet there is probably a reason why it is not currently a solution. Our industry needs to learn about Active Shooter protocols and guides if we want to be a part of it.

According to Meghan's comments, she is keeping an open mind. I commend her for that.

On another note, Active shooter is just not in schools. It is in the workplace and it happens way more than you think it does.

Who says the Sleeve would be out? Maybe it is only accessible with a numerical code or etc.? This is one of the reasons why I'm not slamming the idea. If the protocols were in place, this could be an option as a last line (Active Shooter) device.

We need to learn Active Shooter guides and protocols as a industry. Especially before we critique it in a security forum that another person would think is sound advice for an Active Shooter and spread the news to others.


ALICE does not endorse any brand of barricading devices, like this closer lock or others.

Source: Lori Greene,

I rest my case.... Thanks to Brian and Lori.

I think ALICE made the right call in issuing this memo, since the risk of net harm caused by these devices are much greater than potential good.

However, in Jeremiah's defense, I think it's logical to think a barricade lock is more effective at blocking a door than random chairs, potted plants, or trashcans.

Again, the issue is potential for harm vs. potential for good.

Did you not read the whole statement Jim? They are not advocating and\but advocating the use of barricading.

One simple question for Jim or Brian:

Is a teachers desk and a bookcase jammed against the door by 10 students a violation of the fire code?


Is there a part of the Fire Code that is violated if a teacher had a sleeve in their locked briefcase but never had to use it?

Fire code does not address what is locked in briefcases.

I agree that both the sleeve (in the briefcase) and the bookcase (against the wall) are not a violation of Fire Code before they are deployed.

I agree that both are a violation of the Fire Code when used.

Do you agree with ALICE about barricading in general?

Do you feel these questions are off-topic or wrong to ask?

I don't think we disagree then?

I also don't think it's improper to ask about the wisdom or validity of these codes. I actually asked it as a poll question in School Banned From Using $30K Of Donated Locks. Here were the results:

I don't think barricading with chairs or desk is worth much.

(But a desk or a bookcase isn't primarily used to block a door, either.)

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