In a controversial move, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio launched a program on Monday that has armed volunteer posses patrolling Valley elementary schools. The posses arrived without notice, leaving parents and school staff startled.
Stevenson and Taft Elementary staff were supportive of the new program, but no one had any information as to where these people would be or even who they were.
“I was a little confused when I was in parking lot with those two gentlemen in the marked car. It sure seemed like from the uniforms they might have been regular deputies, but I’m not sure I’ve seen uniforms for the posse members,” said Taft elementary principal Russ Heath. ABC15.com 1/09/2012
“We’ve got some [volunteers] with automatic weapons; I’m not afraid to say that,” Arpaio says.
The areas around some 50 schools under the jurisdiction of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office will be patrolled, but the sheriff wouldn’t divulge the exact number of volunteers to be deployed. Up to 400 of the posse members are trained and certified to carry firearms, as are roughly 100 reserve deputies who also may take part in the daily patrols through the end of the school year.