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Arpaio’s armed posse patrolling Maricopa County schools

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio started ramping up security Monday at several schools in his jurisdiction.

The controversial decision to station armed volunteers from the sheriff’s posse comes weeks after the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

“We’re now concentrating on those towns that we do the law enforcement for like Cave Creek, Carefree, Fountain Hills,” Arpaio said. “We don’t have the manpower right now to cover the 2,000 schools in Phoenix and other cities.”

Arpaio said he’ll start the patrols at about 50 schools in Maricopa County. His trained volunteer posse members will be outside on school grounds, stationed in marked cars.

Arpaio said, “Some of them are trained in automatic assault rifles so you come near the school you’re going to have a big problem.”

SWAT teams and K-9 units will also help patrol schools at times, according to Arpaio.

The Sheriff’s Office plans to recruit and train more volunteer members to eventually cover every school in Maricopa County.