Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Arpaio To Use Armed Volunteers To Bolster Budget Cuts

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced today plans to significantly increase the number of armed volunteer posse as a way to bolster public safety after a 17% budget cut.

Arpaio says the move is needed to combat the potential ill effects of the recent actions by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to cut his budget, resulting in a hiring freeze of patrol deputies and a mandate that all deputies take furlough days.

Nineteen new qualified armed posse volunteers will graduate today from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Training Academy in Phoenix.

Arpaio says he plans to step up his recruiting methods to attract more men and women to join his volunteer armed posse through more public outreach.

"The public has a desire to help local law enforcement when times are tough. I am banking on their generosity of time and energy to help my deputies keep our communities safe," Arpaio said.

Arpaio is seeking primarily those who wish to be trained and qualified to carry and use a weapon. Currently there are about 300 qualified armed posse members in a volunteer force of nearly 2,600, the largest volunteer posse in the nation.

The Sheriff says to be armed qualified volunteers must supply their own weapons and graduate from training class consisting of 160 hours law enforcement instruction, including 60 hours of shooting range practice.

"We are not simply gathering people off the streets, giving them guns and telling them to go out and arrest bad guys, " Arpaio said.

"Our armed posse volunteers receive the same amount of firearms training as our deputies," Arpaio says. "They are and will continue to be an instrumental force behind public safety in Maricopa County."

The Sheriff will be attending their graduation today to address the newly trained volunteers and to give them direction on their responsibilities as armed posse members.

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