News 12 First at Five / Monday, Dec. 17, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Friday's deadly school shooting in Connecticut has local schools making some changes and increasing patrols to keep your child safe.
Richmond County is paying for extra sheriff's deputies to help with school safety in these last two days before Christmas break. It's a little added police presence that's putting parents, students and teachers more at ease.
School Safety Officer Albert Edwards checked in on students and faculty at Craig-Houghton Elementary on Monday.
"The kids are happy to see him; I think it's because they really feel safe," said school Principal Sophia Cogle.
Officer Edwards and the other school officers spend most of their time at middle and high schools.
"We're like out there by ourselves," Cogle said. "We feel that we have things in place, pride ourselves in doing so, but you never know how safe you are."
"It's kind of like, prepare for the worst and hope for the best and that's what we try to do," explained Richmond County School Safety Chief Patrick Clayton.
But you can expect to see the officers more at all schools after the shooting in Newtown, Conn.
"Right now, we're on high alert. Any time something like that happens, you're always going to reevaluate your safety plans to make sure things are safer," Clayton said.
And School Safety is calling on the Sheriff's Office for help so they have a presence at all schools.
"We are beefing up patrols. We've contacted The Sheriff's Office, and we're working with the Special Operations division, and they're also assisting us in beefing up the patrols for at least the next two days," Clayton said.
The tragic shooting, claiming the lives of 20 students and six faculty members, hits home at schools all around the country.
"Our hearts went out to those individuals up there because it could have been anybody's school. It was heartbreaking, it was devastating ... unbelievable," Cogle said. "Because then you start to picture this at your own school."
"As a parent and as a public safety official, it's something that terrifies you," Clayton said.
Many hope the increase in patrols continue on after the Christmas holiday.
"I know that the budget is very tight, we're on nine furlough days to prove it, but safety is so important," Cogle said.
There are about 55 schools in Richmond County. Thirty-five are elementary schools and there are only about 35 safety officers.
News 12 also checked in with Columbia County schools. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway says it's a very somber climate at the schools. She says most spent the morning reviewing safety procedures, and some had extra patrols on hand.