Students in Snohomish County have new classmates this school year -- sheriff's deputies.

In response to the shooting at Sandy Hook, the Snohomish County Sheriff assigned a team of deputies to walk the halls of dozens of county schools.

Mike Hawthorne is one of four deputies and a sergeant who were reassigned from other duties to check up on about 10 schools each week.

The safety unit launched just before school ended last year. Hawthorne said he's received a lot of calls at schools for weapons issues, harassment and intimidation on social media.

A few times, schools have requested his presence all day.

There are some parents who expressed concern about deputies bringing a gun into school, but Hawthorne insists he's not just an armed guard.

We are police officers that are participating in school and being a service for them, said Hawthorne. For us to interact with them, they just get to see a law enforcement guy. Someone they can trust, maybe someone we can mentor, maybe they can come to us with information they haven't in the past.

Now that school has started up for the year, deputies are being asked to help revise emergency policies and procedures.

The sheriff's office hopes to expand the unit.

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