DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - DeSoto County quietly put sheriff's deputies in all county schools immediately following the Newtown shootings.
They'll stay there through the end of the school year; the sheriff wants the officers to be a permanent fixture.
Sheriff Bill Rasco's goal is to make sure every student in DeSoto County feels safe when they go to school each morning.
"It may never happen in our county, which I pray it doesn't, but we can't sit back and say what if I'd done this or done that then it'd be different." Sheriff Rasco is making school safety priority number one, placing armed deputies in each county school.
"All of our deputies have been in active shooter training." Rasco prioritized the 14 county schools for a reason.
"It's a longer response time for our schools in the county. It's anywhere from 10 -12 minutes response times. In the city it's two to five minutes."
Almost all city schools already have armed officers present. Rasco's added more men on the streets patrolling those city schools and neighborhoods, 25 to 30 officers total.
Reaction from Mississippi residents is overwhelmingly positive.
"Anyone within the school or outside that may try to come in will be more hesitant about doing anything," says Shelly Crocker.
"When you think that maybe not, would you want your kid to be the 20th one that was shot? Not me," states Barbara Wasielewski.
The move is costing $10,000 in overtime a week. DeSoto County will pay that through the end of the school year.
"One life saved, I think is worth it," says Bernard Anthony. "I don't see anything wrong with it."
"Something has to be done where people can feel safe sending their kids to school," Wasielewski adds.
Sheriff Rasco's on a committee with all DeSoto County mayors, police chiefs and the school board. They plan to meet once a week to develop a long term security plan.
DeSoto Crimestoppers is also stepping up its efforts to help. The organization has upped the reward from $1,000 to $2,000 dollars for tips that help arrest anyone who brings a gun to DeSoto schools.