Sheriff Arpaio Responds to His Posse Critics: Posse “Well-Trained” and “Covered Liability-Wise”

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In Arizona, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is defending his decision to post armed members of his posse around schools. To Arpaio’s surprise, some people are not pleased with the idea of law enforcement wannabes hanging around schools with guns.

Some of the posse have criminal backgrounds, but Arpaio asserts in a CNN interview that is only two out of 10,000. Maricopa County is a big county, close to 4 million in population or about 60% of Arizona’s total population. If Arpaio is right that only two out of 10,000 of his posse have criminal backgrounds, then that is not a problem.

A bigger problem is why does he have a posse of 10,000? That sounds like an enormous number for what is a support group to law enforcement. According to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department website, they only house 7,500-10,000 inmates. That means the posse exceeds the number of inmates and probably the deputies. Yet the same website states the posse is only 3,000. What’s Arpaio talking about in this interview then? It sounds like he is just pulling numbers out of the air, which raises doubt about the accuracy of his claim that only two posse members have criminal backgrounds. Perhaps the 10,000 is the combined deputy/posse total, but he doesn’t clarify that.

In defending his posse, Arpaio also notes, “This posse is well-trained. They’re covered liability-wise. They have the authority to enforce the law once I mobilize them.”

Basically, Arpaio has his own para-law enforcement group to use as he desires. It is interesting that liability is such a concern to Arpaio when defending his posse. If something happens at the schools – a parent manhandled, a trigger-happy posse member or a child molestation – no problem, Arpaio’s got the liability end covered.

That doesn’t appease a lot of people in Maricopa County. In the town of Guadulupe, Coucilmember Andrew Sanchez emphasized the problem with the posse:

“We cannot track them. We cannot hold them accountable for issues. If they decide to go out and commit crimes against our children, what are we going to do?”

File an insurance claim, I suppose.

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