Maricopa County Sheriff’s Posse members started patrolling around schools in the Queen Creek Unified School District when they went back into session two weeks ago, and district officials and parents couldn’t be happier.
The posse volunteers, who wear the same uniforms and drive the same types of vehicles as deputies, provide a visible presence, said Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Posse members are armed, some with semiautomatic weapons, and are authorized to take action should they see suspicious activity.
“It’s a deterrent effect when they see the marked cars — that’s the main mission to keep the bad guys out,” Arpaio said in an interview.
Posse members are not in the schools, nor do they patrol on school grounds. The sheriff said that ideally he would like to see regular deputies in the schools, but funding for that is not yet available. In the meantime, there is the posse presence outside the schools, which does not cost taxpayers.
He said posse members cover 60 schools in the sheriff’s “primary jurisdiction,” or cities like Queen Creek that contract with the MCSO for deputy services. “I just don’t have enough (volunteers) for every school in the Valley,” he added.
Arpaio said his idea to have the posse patrol schools was prompted by his concerns after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.