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

  1. Eman Puedam says:

    Well in all fairness, Kent State was an entirely different situation. That was the Ohio National Guard, part time members of the military, up against a huge rowdy mob of agitated students. Kent State shows why the Military shouldn’t be used against a US Civilian Population (or really any civilian population.) The National Guard Members were trained in military tactics, so they started shooting.

    Arpaio is wanting to put guns in the hands of untested civilians, who have no prior training as a group (or possibly any training outside of Call Of Duty.) He then wants to work them up over stopping the Boogie Man and turn them loose near swarms of students.

    Have you ever been around kids @ recess, its mayhem. Nothing but screams and children running every which way. Now add into that mix a few untrained wannabe Rambo’s convinced that at any moment a automatic rifle toting wacko will pop out of the bushes and only they can heroically save the day by shooting the nut-job first.

    The first time a car backfires, anyone with remotely phallic objects in their hands will be pumped full of lead. Plus if these “brave protectors” have not trained together before, they will wind up shooting each other (since they are the single biggest threat to the children’s safety, ironically by shooting each other they might save a few childrens’ lives)

  2. lynchie says:

    Congratulations you have earned your $1.25 from the NRA. As far as 10’s of thousands what planet do you live on.

  3. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Safe? Not to someone with my heritage. BTW – you do realize that Fast and Furious was a George W. project?

  4. edward mcinerney says:

    People, Please view this Video, it shows what the progressives have been doing to the country, and I see that they did a good job with you by seeing your oppinions, Just view it and then you can make your comment back to me, but really watch it first…

  5. edward mcinerney says:

    Was that Spoon Fed to you? Because the Media stopped airing it after the court favored the shooter! Note that the Main Stream Media never shows the 10,s of thousands of people who saved their lives with firearms, Look your own News up, watch this video.. This Video will wake you up!

  6. edward mcinerney says:

    I hope your Joking, We are one of the safest States and free State in this country, I feel great when I go to the Gym and there are Fellow Patriots like myself with a gun in their pocket, I love it when I go to my Bank and 4 tellers have guns in their pants and in their purses, When are you Liberals going to get it? Why dont you ask what happened in Bengazi? Instead of picking on us Gun Owners, Ask what happened with Fast and Furious? Quit getting spoon fed your news from the Propaganda Machine!

  7. karmanot says:

    “Sheriff Joe has the utmost respect for Latinos” Yep, that’s true. That’s why he makes his prisoners wear pink underwear.

  8. Dubya4517 says:

    Yep, first. It’s not important, I was never shot.

  9. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:


  10. Dubya4517 says:

    I was 15 when a gun was first pointed at me. I don’t think the guy was drunk, though, he just wanted to rob the store I happened to be in.

  11. Dubya4517 says:

    No, that’s not me.

  12. Dakotahgeo says:

    Tell me that you’re not the original “Dubya,” as in GW Bunnypants?! Please tell me you’re not!

  13. Dakotahgeo says:

    Well, Chris, you sure flunked your first test to see if you’re adequately educated to own/carry a weapon… unnnngh!!!

  14. Dakotahgeo says:

    I’m not really worried about this case of armed intervention. If the local police won’t support SB 1070, they will never go along with being the 2013 version of Robin Hood and his merry men! It’s too risky! (Now, IF the armed guards are all card-carrying mercenaries of the NRA… yeah, then we may need the intervention of the US Marines.)

  15. Dakotahgeo says:

    Dead innocent is dead innocent, Wayne! Any questions? Cheeesch!

  16. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Good question. I have several memories that go back to when I was three. Almost all of them were quite pleasant. Families with alcoholism tend to not talk about “things”. I was in college before I was able to get my mother to fill in the details (the gun was also aimed at my sister and mother).

  17. Dubya4517 says:

    I can understand your aversion. If I may, I’d like to ask you if you directly remember that incident with your father or you are relying on it being told to you later in life? I only ask because I don’t recall much of anything prior to turning 4.

  18. Missbreaks says:

    Who is the Government? You are a citizen of this country and you dont know that the government is us? Yes We The People, elect people to pass laws and guarantee that those are laws are carried out in a responsible manner. These volunteers maybe law abiding citizens…then maybe we should ask them what law they abiding by that lets them act as judge and jury on other equal citizens.

  19. Naja pallida says:

    My point was simply that in your good works, a firearm simply has no place. Just like they have no place in schools, and many, many other places in a society where human beings care for other human beings. Using the excuse that someone crazy and armed might show up, as a reason to make sure there are always armed people of indeterminate ability with a firearm around, because one of them might just get lucky and get to live out his fantasy of capping a bad guy, is ridiculous.

  20. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I’m sorry, but your message is unclear. There are too many pronouns, and I can’t figure to which noun they refer, but sweetie, you’re not going to find me around a firearm. I can say this, many homeless people have mental illnesses. Having an armed volunteer around them would just be asking for trouble, IMHO.

  21. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    You’re addressing a person who had a gun pulled on him when he was three. Let’s just say that my father tried mixing a handgun with alcohol. I have an absolute aversion to hand guns. Rifles don’t seem to bother me as much. Many, many years ago, I dated a police officer. That didn’t go well. I do have a stereotype of those who would carry a handgun.

    I was raised in North Carolina. The towns around us were too small for auxiliary police. I have lived in D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia. I presently live in Minneapolis. I don’t remember D.C., but the auxiliary police in the other cities do not carry firearms. Their function seems to be crowd control.

  22. Bill from Dover says:

    “What is the screening process to join this armed vigilantee squad? ”

    Let me guess. Must meet 4 of the following requirements:
    A deeply held bias of anyone not sharing one’s skin color.
    Easy access to 3 different types of assault weapons.
    A current or expired membership card to the NRA.
    A loathing of those working on their GED.
    A neck the color of Rodolph’s nose.

  23. Larry Linn says:

    If this vigilante posse were patrolling outside of my old high school, they would be harassed by some of my former crazy classmates from within the school.

  24. Dubya4517 says:

    I didn’t realize that it was all about you. Forgive me for implying that your volunteering didn’t matter. On the other hand, nothing I wrote was untrue. And your thinking that volunteers should always be unarmed (my inference from your words) in order to be valuable is just as wrong, I think. Many auxiliary police are unarmed for most of their duties.

    But I don’t think you care. You have a stereotype in mind and there’s nothing I can do to change that perception. In that, you are as troublesome to me as any redneck racist.

  25. JMM says:

    Lisa, I would like to buy your rock.

  26. Naja pallida says:

    I wouldn’t mind deputizing educated and trained citizens, who agree to continued training as long as they are working the job, but if the only reason to do it is because the police are too damn lazy to do their job, then said police department needs a serious enema. Their job is to protect the welfare of their communities, if they refuse to do so, then they should be summarily fired and replaced with a police force that will, not just random citizens with guns.

  27. Naja pallida says:

    No, they count and such things should be commended when done by anyone, but the question is, would such things have been possible without one? Should they be, in a civilized society? Does having a firearm make you a better volunteer? Are the homeless so inherently threatening that even while trying to help them, you feel the need to be armed? In said volunteering, what purpose does the firearm serve?

  28. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Doh! I get it now. My volunteering at a homeless shelter, delivering food baskets to the needy, and my almost daily work at a care center do not count, because I wasn’t carrying a gun.

  29. Dubya4517 says:

    I see no one here understands what a “posse” is and what is proposed. A “posse” is (and has always been) a group of citizens temporarily sworn in as deputies by the sheriff and are under his control and responsibility. They carry their own arms, usually. They are not the lynch mob you often saw in westerns. You might want to read up on Arpaio’s actual posse and learn that it (a) already exists and (b) perform a number of functions in the county. They do not seem much different than what are called “auxiliary police” in many cities and counties and many of you have probably come in contact with them. They are your neighbors and co-workers. Ordinary folks that, unlike many of you, volunteer to help the community.

  30. Roger_of_Arabia says:

    It’s “martial” and AK is Alaska while Arkansas is AR

  31. lynchie says:

    I happened to see a video on tv over the weekend on the Vietnam war and they covered the Kent State massacre. It was a perfect example of over reaction by an untrained group of weekend warriors with no one in charge.

  32. lynchie says:

    True, but they keep electing him. Seems to me if the people don’t see this as being a police state then you get what you vote for. When the shooting starts watch this kind of stupidity spread.

    On another subject heard someone taking about the Trayvon Martin case and the “Stand Your Ground” defense that Zimmerman is using. How about a defense of Martin with the same Stand Your Ground. Confronted in the dark by a guy with a gun who may not have identified himself he defended himself. One had a gun the other just his fists.

  33. Sheriff Joe has the utmost respect for Latinos. What could go wrong? He’s passed his sense of judgement on to his officers on the beat.

  34. For baggers who may think I’m exaggerating:

    City officials in Paragould, Arkansas, a town of 26,000, are recommending a plan that would enact martial law beginning in 2013.

    The plan, purportedly a response to
    recent property and violent crimes, would send police into the streets
    with AR-15 rifles and authorize them to stop anyone in the street and
    demand to know what they are doing.

  35. Arkansas is declaring itself “sort of” under marshal law. It will be interesting to see how AK and AZ pan out. I have a bad feeling about it.

  36. I picture kids freaking when they see fat hillbilly racists with guns on lurking in the hallways. Kids can sense hateful people.

  37. The last time I was called a N***** to my face was in Arizona … in full view of Sun Devil Stadium. (I was fresh out of ‘Nam, so it didn’t end well … for them).

  38. Dakotahgeo says:

    Is it any wonder that people think of Arizona as a wanabe state looking for statehood… anywhere that will have them? These people are loco, and the USA patriotic citizens are laughing themselves silly over R-pieface and Brewsky!!

  39. karmanot says:

    These vigilantes have good practice at killing or hunting down folks running across the border for a better life. Welcome to America.

  40. karmanot says:

    Nothing more adapt at rationalizing than a vigilantist.

  41. theoracle says:

    Arpaio is just repositioning his crack volunteer “posse” from the Arizona/Mexico border (where they’ve been diligently saving America from foreigners sneaking into the country) to public schools in Arizona (and since many Arizona schoolchildren are Hispanic, pray for the Hispanic parent who shows up at school for a conference or to pick up a sick child…BAM, BAM, BAM).

  42. karmanot says:

    Go Freeway. We love your past work and the anarchy of effective graffiti!

  43. freewayblogger says:

    Please Note: If you’ve got a gun, you get to decide who the “good guys” and “bad guys” are. Judge, Jury and Executioner with just the squeeze of a trigger.

    If this actually happens, I’m going to Arizona to complain. Loudly.

  44. Trayvon Martin comparison to shooting children at schools really?

  45. In Detroit they have the Detroit 300 which is 300 people that are citizens that help fight crime. This article obviously written out of context, as for the racist marks on his record never looked at it. I will say this if you are a cop in detroit and you arrest “African America People” you are a racist LOL! That is the population.
    In Arizona it is plagued with illegal aliens some good some bad just like anywhere else in America.
    I am not defending racism of any kind but it is simple stastics, if there are more latinos in an area then more latinos will be arrested. If there are more “White People” in an area then more white people will be arrested.
    Our local PD’s is the worst they won’t even take FREE Training, I think the idea of deputizing citizens is a good idea if it is done in the right context.
    Who is the Government to tell him law abiding citizens can’t make a difference- He did the smartest thing in the world…Here is what he is really saying….IF YOU MESS WITH OUR CHILDREN….YOU WILL BE SHOT….I THINK THAT IS A GREAT POLICY THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD STAY OUT OF HIS AREA!!!! MAYBE THEY COULD LEARN SOMETHING….

  46. mike31c says:

    thank the gods I do not live in such a backwards and paranoid place like az.

  47. The only good thing about this is that those “volunteers” risk arrest by local police officers if they attempt to enter the weapons-free grounds of any given school…

  48. mgardener says:

    Will never, ever visit Arizona or willingly/knowingly do business with that state.

  49. karmanot says:

    Right! Years after the incident I went to interview for a job at Kent and I swear you could still fell the atmosphere of that slaughter.

  50. samiinh says:

    Arizona is a good place NOT to visit.

  51. Kelvin Mace says:

    So, who will be responsible when one of these lunatics guns down a child for being the wrong color or when they sexually assault them?

  52. nicho says:

    extensive training and preferrably some real word experience in live
    fire situations (military, ploice, etc) to make sure that they are not
    quick to pull the trigger.

    Tell that to the students at Kent State.

  53. karmanot says:

    Aryanzonia has become about as fascist, racist and militarized as in can be without becoming a Nazi mini state. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has become a de-facto warlord and constitutes a threat to the well being of Arizona’s citizens and a clear danger to the safety of the nation. A small personal army of 3000! You have got to be kidding. The Feds need to intervene.

  54. Dano2 says:

    Exactly – the tyranny is being forced to live in the fantasy world of little gun fetishizers.



  55. Dano2 says:

    I need to use my Googles and see if I can find an organization to donate to in AZ that is suing this moe-ron.



  56. Eman Puedam says:

    What is the screening process to join this armed vigilantee squad? To become a teacher you (at least in theory) have to pass an extensive background check. I wouldn’t want any armed guards around students if they don’t have extensive training and preferrably some real word experience in live fire situations (military, ploice, etc) to make sure that they are not quick to pull the trigger. What are their rules of engagement?

    This situation sounds like a second Trayvon Martin type incident waiting to happen.

    Also, the statement that there have been zero incidents while the group has been on patrol is meaningless. That is no different than my rock that keeps tigers away. I know it works because in the year I have owned it, I have never seen a tiger. Never mind that I have never seen a tiger in my entire life.

  57. aikanae says:

    while the Sheriff’s office sits on 4,000 sexual abuse cases.

  58. Naja pallida says:

    So far the only tyranny I see is that of people who want to force firearms, and the fear of them, into every aspect of our lives.

  59. Asterix says:

    Clearly the answer to all of this if you’re a “free” Maricopa County resident is to out-gun the posse. After all, don’t the Tea Partiers say that the reason to carry guns is to protect oneself against government infringing on one’s rights as a free citizen? RPGs, Lewisite, tactical nukes anyone?

  60. nicho says:

    All it’s going to take is one trigger-happy Rambo-wannabee to start a massacre at a school. New state motto: “Arizona — a truly creepy place.”

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