ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla.-- The devastation and pain of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., still runs deep.
Alachua County leaders know that. That's why they've pledged to make their schools safer.
"If there is something that happens, we will be ready," Officer Art Forgey said.
The Sheriff's Office teamed up with the School Board to put officers in 12 elementary schools after the Christmas break. Right now, 16 deputies are assigned to 14 schools in Alachua County but none at the elementary level. The goal is to ease fears and create a buffer if needed.
"That's the most important thing is letting people know when they drop their kids off at school they're going to be safe," Forgey continued.
Action News did some checking in other counties and learned:
Duval has one full-time officer at each of its 26 middle schools, one at each of its 21 high schools and one to two total officers assigned to the 96 elementary schools based on "behavior needs."
In St. Johns County, there's one officer at each of the seven middle schools,one1 at each of the seven high schools and none at the 18 elementary schools.
Bradford County says it wants to have consistent deputies at the lower level, but it takes money. For now, the Sheriff's Office is doing what it can.
"Right now we are using out patrol officers to do random security checks and also talking to each one of the school administrators to see what their needs are," Capt. Brad Smith said.
The cost of Alachua's elementary officers will be paid for through current funds. For them to stay in a permanent basis, more kinks will have to be worked out.
"We can't do it forever, but for a time at least until we get some time and information back from the work group, she's going to absorb it in the sheriff's budget," Forgey said.
The deputies will take their place in Alachua's 12 elementary schools starting Jan. 3.