Volunteer posse member talks about Sheriff Arpaio's plan to patrol schools

PHOENIX (Tucson News Now) - by Jason Volentine / KTVK-TV

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio plans to have volunteer posse members running patrols outside schools where the Sheriff's Office has sole jurisdiction -- places like Guadalupe, Fountain Hills, Cave Creek and Sun City West.

"I have the authority to mobilize private citizens and fight crime in this county," said Sheriff Arpaio, announcing his plan, Thursday.

It's the latest in a series of ideas from people trying to figure out how to make schools safer.

Some parents aren't too crazy about Arpaio's idea to have an armed volunteer posse on patrol outside of some Valley schools. But one of those posse members told 3TV that parents should trust them.

Sheriff Joe's all-volunteer posse has been protecting malls during the holidays for years. Posse members said Friday there's no reason they shouldn't be deployed to protect Valley schools year 'round.

"We will serve the sheriff as a posse any place in anything he wants us to do when we're called upon," said posse member Jerry Johnson.

Sheriff Joe's idea is to have posse members patrol around schools, not actually going on the grounds unless needed.

"But if our lives were threatened or a child's life was threatened, a teacher's life was threatened and we see that while on patrol, we would be prepared to take some kind of action," said Johnson.

Not everyone likes the idea of sending volunteers with guns to their kid's school.

"If they're not cops themselves I don't think it's a good idea," said Marisdla Flores, a parent with a child entering kindergarten next fall.

Flores will be sending her son, Antonio, to school at Frank Elementary next year. Frank is one of the schools under the Sheriff's jurisdiction and would be patrolled by posses under the Sheriff's plan.

"I don't know if they know how to handle a gun," said Flores.

But posse member Johnson said he, and others like him, have at least 100 hours of firearms training every year - similar to paid deputies - and could do the job.

"It will be the posse members that are armed that will be doing that and I just think it will be a great deterrent," said Johnson.

While the sheriff's posse is all volunteer, even paying for all their own guns and equipment, posse members are insured by MCSO. The county would therefore likely be on the hook for any liability if some kind of accident happened during a school patrol.

Information from AZFamily.com / KTVK-TV