Arpaio offers to provide security for public officials

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is offering to provide security for elected officials during public events.

The offer was made in response to the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Rep.Gabrielle Giffords.

Arpaio sent letters with the offer to members of the U.S. Congress, the leadership members of the state Senate and House of Representatives, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Superior Court judges.

Arpaio said he will provide armed posse members for public speeches or events if requested. He is offering the volunteer posse's services to public officials as a deterrent to any attacks.

Arpaio has more than 330 men and women who have been instructed in defense tactics and weapons training. They routinely provide extra security services to several major events and to shoppers at the malls during the holiday shopping season.

"An armed and uniformed presence could very well be a visual deterrent to a potential assailant," Arpaio said. "And while I do not believe that everyone with a gun who is determined to do serious harm can always be stopped, law enforcement must do whatever it can to protect the public and our public officials in any way possible."

If a serious potential threat exists, Arpaio offered his deputies who have been formally trained in dignitary protection.