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Armed Arizona posse guards schools: Vigilantes or vigilance?

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona's Maricopa County has dispatched his armed posse to guard public schools. For members of the posse – often retirees – it's a chance to serve.


Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Desert Foothills Posse Commander Captain David Bennett patrols the Diamond Canyon Elementary School in Cave Creek, Ariz., earlier this month as part of the Sheriff Department's school patrol detail.

Ralph Freso/Reuters/File

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From a distance, the Maricopa County sheriff's patrol car parked near the entrance to a school parking lot suggests the presence of a uniformed deputy, sitting vigilant behind the wheel – a 9 millimeter Glock on his waist, a Remington shotgun nearby, and a bulletproof vest snug under his tan shirt.

But the man behind the wheel is no deputy.

He is retiree David Bennett, a volunteer with the armed posse that Sheriff Joe Arpaio recently dispatched to patrol school zones in metropolitan Phoenix. It is the sheriff's answer to keeping students safe in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings in December that left 26 people dead, including 20 children.

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