GOP Sheriff Arpaio is sending his 3,000-strong gun “posse” to AZ schools

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is gearing up to deploy up to 3,000 gun-toting volunteers outside of Arizona schools to protect students from Newtown-like attacks, despite the fact that his services have not been requested by any school or school district.


The sheriff didn’t talk logistics but said he’ll use members of his 3,000 strong posse to patrol schools in towns that fall under sole jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office…which he said amounts to about 50 grade, middle and high schools.

“I don’t know if they agree [to my plan] or not.  I’ll coordinate with them,” the sheriff said, admitting he has yet to talk it over with the schools.

His “posse”?  What is this, Cowboy and Indians?

Arpaio’s posse has volunteered its services outside of malls during the holiday shopping season since 1993. Arpaio claims that zero instances of violent crime have occurred while his group has been on patrol, and further claims that in 2012 their efforts led to 31 arrests.

child with gun

Child with gun via Shutterstock.

Given Sheriff Joe’s utterly abhorrent record with regards to the consistent and fair enforcement of the law, I wonder how smart it is to allow him to be the sole regulator of an essentially vigilante force in Arizona’s schools.

Earlier today, the Department of Justice filed a formal legal complaint against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) alleging widespread constitutional violations and lawless mistreatment of Latinos. According to the complaint, Arpaio and his staff engaged in widespread, violent and demeaning mistreatment of Latino residents of Maricopa County, often targeting individuals solely because of their race:

How many of Arpaio’s “31 arrests” were for “shopping while Latino”? And how comfortable should Latino, or any minority, students feel as they’re being checked out by armed vigilantes who report to Sheriff Joe?

And furthermore, if this Wayne LaPierre-style “good guys with guns” policy really is the solution to ending gun violence, where does it end?  How many good guys with guns does it take to make sure we’re safe? Do we put militiamen on every street corner, like we did with the National Guard in Washington, DC in the immediate days after September 11, just in case someone decides to open fire in that particular spot of the smallest towns in America?

The conservatives who are convinced that President Obama is going to impose an American police state should take a second and ask themselves how they’d feel about a vigilante police state in its stead.  Because they’re about to get one in Arizona.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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