Jeff Green is a public school veteran. He spent 16 years as a teacher and administrator, most recently as the principal of Starside Elementary School in the DeSoto School District. He’s also a parent, and as “active shooter” situations happened across the country, Green became doubly concerned about the classroom setting.
“After Sandy Hook, law enforcement has come a long way,” Green said, referring to the fatal elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn. “But from the school perspective, we haven’t come as far.”
Green made up his mind to do something about it and developed a system, and products to support it, to help those in the classroom respond until help arrives. He created the Personal Protection System under a company Green created called SafeDefend Inc.
“I created a system that provides staff and employees with professional training, tools to go with the training and response options and professional monitoring in active shooter or other emergency situations,” Green said.
Q: How did you put idea into action?
While Green was still a school principal, he began researching the idea of kit filled with items that would help in such dire circumstances.
“I really couldn’t find anything out there for the employees to react until police arrive,” he said. “It didn’t start out as a business, but the feedback I got was that this was definitely something that was needed.”
Green talked with law enforcement officials and threat assessment professionals to get suggestions for what should be in the kit and what the training should entail. The kit contains, among other items, a trauma kit, pepper spray, a high visibility vest and a whistle to use to let first responders know their location.
Q: Is there any unique aspect to the product?
The kit is housed in a biometric safe that can be opened only by fingerprint recognition of those whose information has been stored.
“Once the finger is scanned it alerts law enforcement that there is an emergency,” Green said. “It can also be set up to send a text.”
The system is priced at $499 plus installation and is monitor ready.
“We wanted a system that wasn’t overpriced,” Green said. “It’s about the price of a laptop.”
Q: Are you concerned about false alerts?
“You’re not going to open it unless you want law enforcement there,” he said.
Green said there are two main goals to using the SafeDefend system. First, the system gives employees options for survival until help arrives. Second, Green said since the system alerts law enforcement the second that the kit is opened, it cuts down on response time.
When Green completed the 2013 school year, he left the district to concentrate full time on SafeDefend.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge to starting your own business?
Green said going from a career in education and entering the business world was a huge step. He reached out to the Small Business Development Center at Johnson County Community College to help him with the company.
“They helped me put together a business plan and understand a lot of other things,” Green said.
Green also took the Kauffman FastTrac course through Mid-America Nazarene University, which he just completed.
“It gave me a global understanding of business and how to make it operational and successful.”
Q: How are you selling this product?
Until now, Green has been the main salesman for SafeDefend, relying heavily on his connections in the education world. But that is about to change.
“We are bringing on a vice president of sales and a sales team in June,” Green said. He uses a network of independent contractors — most of whom have law enforcement backgrounds — to conduct customer trainings.
Until now, Green has been operating out of his Olathe home, but with the addition of staff, he’s looking for an outside office.
SafeDefend is already in place in the Louisburg, Kan., Public Library, and Green said he was in final talks with several other clients to buy the system. As to the future, Green wants to continue pushing the kits to schools as well as branching out into the corporate arena. It’s important to Green that his product succeeds.
“I left a job that I loved to make sure I’m protecting my children and others,” he said. “I want kids and parents to be able to come home and hug each other at the end of the day.”