Armed sheriff's posse to patrol 59 Maricopa Co. schools

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

ANTHEM, Ariz. -- Behind the wheels of their squad cars, the sheriff's volunteer posse patrols the far-flung corners of Maricopa County.

But now many members won't be traveling much. Instead, they'll be spending time driving in circles and patrolling the neighborhoods surrounding some county schools.

"I can't imagine teachers or even the public not supporting this program," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.

"I like that there's more eyes and with everybody knowing that there is increased presence, it makes it that much more of a deterrent," said Erica Jackson, who not only has children in Anthem schools, but also teaches fourth grade there.

Arpaio formally announced that his trained, armed posse members are now patrolling around 59 schools in the county's jurisdiction, including cities like Anthem, Sun City, Gila Bend and Queen Creek.

Some 400 to 500 volunteers will rotate shifts with the goal of stopping crime before it happens, and being an armed presence close to campus if it does.

Jackson applauds the sheriff's determination to do something in the name of more security.

"Sheriff Joe's trying," she said. "He is responding and all of them are doing all that they can possibly do to help out."

The sheriff said he considers this a stop-gap measure, until the federal or state government comes to any decisions on how to improve school safety.