Volunteer posse members will patrol neighborhoods
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Wednesday launched his posse school patrol program. Members of his agency's all-volunteer posse will patrol neighborhoods near 59 schools in the Sheriff's Department's jurisdiction "as a deterrent for anyone that thinks they're going to come on school property to cause havoc," Arpaio told a news conference outside Anthem Elementary School.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has primary jurisdiction in the county's unincorporated areas as well as communities that have contracted with the agency to provide police services.
Arpaio's all-volunteer posse includes over 3,000 male and female volunteers, more than 500 of whom are armed and qualified with the same weapons and training as deputies.
Arpaio told reporters that depending on the weapons for which the posse members are qualified, they could carry anything from a Glock handgun to semi-automatic or fully automatic weapons in their squad cars while on patrol. He said they will stay off school grounds unless they're needed to respond to an emergency at a school.
The sheriff emphasized that because all of his posse members are volunteers, and provide their own vehicles and weapons, the patrols won't cost taxpayers a penny.
Arpaio said he's hoping Congress or the Arizona Legislature will come up with funding to allow for placing an armed school resource officer at every school in the state or country. "Let's call this a stopgap," he said, "until they come up with some better ideas. But I'm not gonna wait."
PHOTO: Dozens of Anthem residents listen, along with reporters, to Arpaio's comments at Wednesday's Anthem news conference.