17 Maricopa County Sheriff’s posse members return in Sun City West
PHOENIX – Following a suspension of the entire Maricopa County Sheriff’s posse that began in January, 17 members of the Sun City West volunteer unit have returned to service.
In January, Sheriff Paul Penzone temporarily suspended the posse after an audit revealed that most members weren’t properly certified.
Some were found to have criminal histories, with arrests or convictions for domestic violence, drug crimes, sex crimes and other offenses.
Penzone implemented a new certification process that needed to be completed before members could return to duty.
“Everybody that you see here, not only does their work reflect their character, but they don’t want to stand next to someone who is undeserving to be part of this organization,” Penzone said Friday during a press conference at the office of the Sun City West Posse.
Armed members were required to undergo background interviews, polygraphs, psychological exams and drug screenings, and their background must be rechecked every two years.
The certification is less rigorous for non-armed posse members, but they too must go through background checks every two years.
Deputy Chief John Bailey said Friday that 404 members chose to go through the process. He expected their checks to be completed by the end of March.
Penzone said new posse applications will be accepted after the ongoing certifications are completed.
The posse’s absence hit Sun City West, a West Valley adult community, harder than most places.
The Sun City West Posse website calls the unit the “first line of security as part of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.” The volunteers also provide vital support services such as vacation checks, welfare checks and traffic crash response.
Penzone commended group for working hard to expedite the certification process.
“Their energy to get back to work and to keep this community safe and supplement the service of the sheriff’s office speaks volumes of who they are and what they stand for,” he said.
Bailey said Sun City West has 69 members on its roster, 62 of whom had started or completed the certification process. He said the 45 checks in progress should be completed within two weeks.
During the hiatus, MCSO deputies from other locations provided additional patrol support in Sun City West.
The first returns came one week ahead what the MCSO previously had announced.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report.