Sheriff Joe Arpaio is again making controversial statements, this time suggesting that in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, he plans to deploy an armed posse of volunteers to protect Phoenix-area students.
The Maricopa County Sheriff told KTVK-TV that it’s within his power to mobilize citizens to fight crime, but he hasn’t talked to specific school districts yet about his armed posse plan. The armed members wouldn’t actually be inside the schools, he says, but instead posted along the perimeters of the school grounds.
Arpaio has been known for controversy in the past, The Huffington Post noted. He has gained a reputation as one of the strictest illegal immigration opponents in the nation, employing hard-line and often controversial measures within his county.
His measures have sometimes been seen as unconstitutional, like a plan to detain and deport those who could not produce identification. Critics say Arpaio’s crackdown on illegal immigration falls hard on the region’s minority population, causing police to harass citizens who are in the United States legally for the sake of finding those who are undocumented.
He has also gained notoriety for his belief that President Barack Obama was born outside of the United States and lied on his birth certificate. Earlier this year Joe Arpaio even said he sent an investigator to Hawaii to investigate the president’s birth certificate.
Joe Arpaio’s most recent plan for an armed posse to protect schools in the wake of the Newtown shooting comes as other Arizona officials search for ways to make schools safer. Attorney general Tom Horne has proposed firearm training for one person in each school, while Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu wants multiple educators in each school to carry guns.