Sheriff Joe Arpaio or “America’s Toughest Sheriff” as he has been called, kicked off his volunteer posse holiday watch at an Arizona mall on Monday. He also said “terrorists with evil intent should be worried about armed citizens who will be ready to defend themselves and others.”
The annual event intending to protect shoppers at malls has special meaning this year given the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, and the Islamic State threats that have been made against Americans.
The kickoff this year took place at 4 p.m. Monday at Paradise Valley Mall in Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix is the largest city in Maricopa County, Arizona, and is the sixth largest city in the nation.
According to a statement by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Arpaio said, “We have to understand and deal with these threats as an entire community in order to best safeguard the public. The first line of defense is law enforcement, and that includes the posse, which has proved itself again and again a most valuable and successful resource through the years.”
The Sheriff added, “The volunteer posse can’t do it alone, so with nearly 250,000 Arizonians carrying concealed weapons, terrorists with evil intent entering large gatherings, including shopping malls, should be worried about armed citizens who will be ready to defend themselves and others.”
Shoppers are being instructed to be aware of their surroundings and to have an escape route planned. Having a plan is many times the key to survival experts have said.
According to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) website, the Sheriff’s volunteer posse has over 3,000 members and is the nation’s largest posse.
The volunteer posse, started when Arpaio first took office in 1993, help law enforcement officials in search and rescue and other traditional police operations. They help round up deadbeat parents, fight prostitution, patrol malls during holidays, and investigate animal cruelty. Their services are “essentially free to taxpayers” states the sheriff on the MCSO website.
Phoenix is the home of the two Muslim terrorists who carried out the attack on the Mohammed Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas. As reported by Breitbart News, Usama Shami is the President of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix which was attended by the two gunmen. He claimed the shooters “didn’t show any signs of radicalization” in an interview broadcast on CNN’s “The Lead” right after the attack.
Breitbart News reported that Courtney Lonergan who attended the mosque and witnessed Simpson’s conversion to a fundamentalist interpretation of the faith said, “The fact that he [Elton Simpson] felt personally insulted by someone drawing a picture had to come from the ideological rhetoric coming out of the mosque.”
After the attack in late May, about 500 protesters, many of them armed, gathered outside the Phoenix mosque. Law enforcement officers “kept the two groups sparring about Islam far apart from each other, as reported by Breitbart News.
The right to bear arms is a topic of heightened attention to supporters of the Second Amendment.
On November 17, GQ magazine published an interview with President Obama in which he indicated his last year in office will be one of “sustained attention” to gun control, reported Breitbart News’ AWR Hawkins.
After the murders at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado on November 27, “[t]he president again turned to gun control as a potential solution to the horrific act, calling for the removal of guns from the streets, reminding Americans that mass shootings should not be accepted as normal,” as reported by Breitbart News.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as an associate judge and prosecutor. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2