A terrifying school lockdown experience three years ago inspired a Texas teacher to dedicate herself to making schools and other buildings safer.
Crystal Salcido, an English teacher in El Paso, first came up with the idea for a new type of door lock in 2017. However, after an upsetting lockdown experience at her school in 2019, she decided to quit teaching to devote herself full-time to her invention.
The lock consists of two stainless-steel latches that are permanently affixed to the door and door jamb, which can be quickly engaged by inserting a stainless steel sling into the latches. There are three different models, designed for doors that open inward, outward, or double doors.
Salcido originally called her invention DoorJam, but later changed the name to “Slon,” a Czech word for “elephant.” She explained the new name is a reference to how elephants are known to protect their little ones, just as teachers safeguard their students.
“There’s 30 other people in that classroom who haven’t started their lives yet that we (teachers) desperately want to protect,” she said.
Anthony Independent School District, located about 20 miles north of El Paso, has implemented her locks in all their classrooms. A spokesperson for the Anthony ISD stated that the district purchased the locks after the Uvalde shooting in Texas.
During the Uvalde tragedy, inadequate door-locking systems allowed the gunman to enter the school and easily access a classroom. The school’s outer doors could only be locked from the outside, and the classroom’s door lock was broken.
Nineteen students and two teachers died in the May 24 school shooting, and several others were injured. The Uvalde shooting was a wake-up call to many that schools need to be more vigilant about their locks.
The president of the National School Safety and Security Services, Ken Trump, stated that when doors are unlocked or locked insecurely, “your first step, your first line of defense has now been eliminated.”
Salcido is helping schools reinforce this first barrier to school intruders and this first line of defense. She hopes that every school in Texas will eventually utilize her locks, and maybe one day, they will be used nationwide.
Salcido is still in the process of getting the Slon lock patented.