A law enforcement officer will be assigned to every public elementary school in Alachua County when classes resume next year.
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office will assign an armed deputies at the 12 elementary schools that lie outside Gainesville city limits and a Gainesville police officer will be at schools within the city from 30 minutes before until 30 minutes after school day beginning January 3.
"This will be our No. 1 priority and nothing will be off the table," said Sheriff Sadie Darnell told Alachua County Today. "The safety of children is our focus for the new year. That’s our resolution."
The extra patrol officer will cost an estimated $17,500 per week, and the assignments are only temporary, although the entities will look for funding to permanently assign resource officers to elementary schools.
Currently, school resource officers are provided to middle and high schools in Alachua County.
"As we all know, the presence of School Resource Deputies in schools has become an important part of the duty to protect children on campus," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Art Forgey. "The presence of the SRD’s also provides a deterrent to those targeting young children around our schools and an expedited law enforcement response to school violence or weapons."
Parents like Chris Harmon are thankful there is a plan.
“I think it’s needed, I think it’s needed,” said Harmon.
But not every parent is convinced it's a perfect solution.
“I just wish we didn’t even have to have that, I wish as a mom, that that presence wouldn’t be needed, that people are doing these awful things at schools,” said Mary Thomas.