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Arpaio to border committee: Posse won’t go to the border

Nearly 3,500 volunteers in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s possehelp arrest illegal immigrants and fight other crimes, but don’t expect them to patrol along the U.S.-Mexico border, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Wednesday.

As Arpaio addressed the Joint Border Security Advisory Committee, made up of lawmakers, sheriffs and state officials, Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa asked whether and how the posse could be used at the border.

Arpaio responded that the border is beyond his area of responsibility.

“I think that’s something you should talk to the local sheriffs about,” Arpaio said. “They have their own resources and problems.”

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Smith said in an interview afterward that he still hopes Arpaio, who also is a member of the committee, can work with sheriffs in border counties to offer assistance from his posse.

“I think they all will have a very good working relationship,” Smith said. “Hopefully they can work together and get some people down there.”

Arpaio said the posse saves taxpayers an estimated $10 million to $15 million a year.

Posse members receive training from the sheriff’s office and take part in several missions that include law enforcement, transport of prisoners and arrests of illegal immigrants, Arpaio said. They aren’t paid but wear the same uniform as deputies.

“That’s what it’s all about: Bring the people into the fight,” Arpaio told the committee.

The committee’s co-chairman, Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, said he was interested in gathering information on Arpaio’s posse with a view toward building an Arizona State Guard as authorized by a law that took effect this year. The measure allows the governor to establish such a force for any reason or if the Arizona National Guard is called into federal service.

“I think we have a lot to learn from them as we look at standing up an Arizona State Guard,” Melvin said. “I like the idea of what Sheriff Arpaio has done in Maricopa County. I personally feel that whatever we do with respect to a state guard, it has to be a state operation with no ties to the feds.”

Sheriff’s posse units:

• Communication
• Community service
• Desert Search Unit
• Enforcement Support
• Jeep
• Maricopa K-9
• Medical rescue
• Mountain rescue
• North Valley
• Queen Creek Mounted
• Sar-Comm
• Sun City
• Sun City West

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