Legendary violator of constitutional rights, prodigious target of lawsuits (currently two), and America’s least favorite crazy-drunk-uncle-who-lives-in-the-attic Joe Arpaio – who also happens to be the elected Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, which includes the Phoenix metropolitan area – has struck again. And no – shock of shocks – the infringed-upon individuals in this case were not immigrants, or drug offenders, or inmates…they were school children. As reported by ABC:
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced that at least 59 Phoenix-area schools now have armed volunteers posted outside to deter would-be shooters from carrying out acts of violence.
About 3,000 volunteers will patrol the 59 schools in the sheriff’s primary jurisdiction each school day for the rest of the year, Arpaio said at a news conference on Wednesday. At least 500 of the volunteers will be armed and authorized to use the same weapons as deputies do.
The sheriff told ABC/Univision in December that he has the authority to direct the posse to take action if it is warranted, but said the guards are intended to be a deterent.
Arpaio decided to post posse members outside of schools in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting and another incident involving a 16-year-old Mesa, Arizona student who threatened to kill fellow students at Red Mountain High School. The girl was arrested after she posted threats on a YouTube channel, before any shooting took place. The school is not one of the 59 the posse will monitor.
Apparently, Sheriff Joe has been organizing his own little police-state, patrolled by militant adult males with guns who have no where else to be during the day, like, say, a job, who are loyal only to him. The all-volunteer “citizen posse” program has existed in Maricopa County for fifty years, but has been widely expanded under Sheriff Joe, extending now to schools.
But hey, he’s served as sheriff since 1992 – maybe Sheriff Joe has the wishes of his constituency at heart?
But some are nervous about the idea, and even more concerned about who Arpaio authorizes to carry out actions on his behalf.
“They have guns? No, I don’t like that and I can’t believe something like this would be implemented without speaking to parents first,” Susanne Ross told 3TV.
The posse began patrolling on Monday, and officially rolled out Wednesday, but not all school officials received advance notice.
“I was a little confused when I was in parking lot with those two gentlemen in the marked car. It sure seemed like from the uniforms they might have been regular deputies, but I’m not sure I’ve seen uniforms for the posse members,” Taft elementary principal Russ Heath told a local ABC affiliate.
Arpaio told ABC/Univision in December that it was not up for debate whether the schools had posse members posted outside.
“It doesn’t matter whether they like it or don’t,” he said. “I’m still going to do it. I can’t imagine criticism coming when they’re given free protection.”
The real travesty, though, and the reason I’m bringing this up, is this (emphasis mine):
According to a local CBS affiliate, some of Arpaio’s posse members have criminal records.
Their investigation “uncovered a number of posse members with arrests for assault, drug possession, domestic violence, sex crimes against children, disorderly conduct, impersonating an officer – and the list goes on.”
While the posse application says applicants may be disqualified if they have a felony conviction or have used illegal drugs, CBS interviewed a posse member who was arrested for cocaine possession.
-So, what do we do to prevent these school shootings, Joe?
-Let’s find some townies, guys with a lot of free time during school hours and a penchant for weapons, and put ’em at every school entrance.
-Should we background-check them?
-Nah, no background-checks. I don’t want people to think we’re uppity. Anybody’ll do, even if they’re a li’l weird – as long as they like being around children!
I feel safer already. To the residents of Maricopa County, I’m truly sorry for you – and somebody needs to take Uncle Joe’s keys before he kills someone.