Arpaio using drug money to arm deputies with automatic weapons

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Just a day after one of his deputies was shot in the line of duty, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio stopped by 3TV's studio to talk about what law-enforcement officers face on a daily basis and his plan to arm all of his deputies with automatic or semi-automatic weapons.

“Seems like not only deputy sheriffs, but police officers seem to be the target of these bad guys,” Arpaio told 3TV's Jason Volentine Tuesday night at a memorial for a deputy who was shot and killed at Anthem a year ago. “Seems like there’s a war on law enforcement.”

Some deputies already have automatic weapons, but to level the playing field in terms of fire power, Arpaio wants all of his deputies to be similarly armed.

"It's not going to be difficult," he told 3TV's Scott Pasmore Wednesday morning. "I'm going to use money that we seized from dope peddlers. So, I'm going to thank them for helping arm our deputies. ... We have our order in and we ought to receive them soon."

"I don't know what's going on -- whether it's a cycle or what -- but we have to be prepared and defend ourselves," he continued. "We will be."

Arpaio also talked about his program that will put armed volunteer posse members on patrol around 50 schools in Maricopa County. The patrols will not be on school grounds, but rather around the campuses. The idea is to create a visual presence like the posse does at Valley malls during the holiday season.

"We've done this posse program for 20 years," he said, talking about his confidence in the plan. "I hope this acts as a deterrent. I hope nothing happens, that we don't have to take massive actions."

It's not clear if Arpaio will expand the patrol program to cover all schools in Maricopa County.

There are 3,000 volunteers, many of whom have jobs, in the posse, but only about 500 are armed.

Click the video above to watch the entire interview.