Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio seems to always court controversy from issues ranging from immigration enforcement to Obama birther debates. Recently, he even accepted an award from The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a southern “heritage organization” that has been criticized recently for promoting a racist agenda. But just weeks after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona is getting ready to implement a new policy to protect Phoenix area schools.
Sheriff Arpaio plans to use armed citizen posses to patrol schools in towns in Maricopa County, Arizona that fall under the sole jurisdiction of his department. Arpaio told azfamily.com, “I have the authority to mobilize private citizens and fight crime in this county.”
Arpaio’s office has used citizen posses before to patrol malls after some violent incidences in 1993. He has also used citizen posses for immigration patrols in recent years in the absence of state funds.
Arpaio also explained that the citizen posses would not be in the schools, but would patrol the perimeters, “We’re not talking about placing the posse in the schools right now but in the outlying — the perimeters of the school — to detect any criminal activity.” The Maricopa County Sheriff also used this opportunity to state that he does support the idea of having armed cops in public schools but did not commit to a particular position on having armed teachers.
Sheriff Arpaio continues to be the target of a Department of Justice civil rights lawsuit, and his office has been criticized for not focusing on outstanding felony warrants while instead focusing on immigration.