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PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio plans to start putting armed members of his volunteer posse near schools in the wake of the mass shooting in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Arpaio doesn't plan to put posse members inside schools but will have them posted around the perimeters.

"Why not utilize the posse into patrolling schools in our areas?" Arpaio asks.

With what he thinks is no reason not to, he'll start this new idea within the next week.

The specific schools are not yet known but volunteers will be spread throughout Arpaio's jurisdiction and he has identified certain areas.

The posse members are qualified for the job, according to Arpaio.

"Our posses are well trained with over 100 hours of how to use weapons [and] they have authority under the elected sheriff," Arpaio said. "I feel they'll be a great asset to schools around our area."

They would be armed with a side-arm and not a semi-automatic weapon.

Arpaio is known as one of the nation's most high-profile supporters of strict U.S.-Mexico border policy.

His plan announced Thursday comes after two other Arizona officials released ideas for boosting school security.

Attorney General Tom Horne proposed firearms training for one person in each school. And Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu proposed training multiple educators per school to carry guns.

"It doesn't matter what the reaction is," Arpaio said. "My main objective is to protect the public and do what we can to detour any of the massacres that have been happening around the country."

The sheriff and his posse just finished up patrolling local malls over the holiday season, something they have been doing since 1993.

Information from The Associated Press was used from this report.

KTAR Newsroom,

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