Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., has drafted actor Steven… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)
America’s self-styled toughest sheriff is teaming up with an action star.
Steven Seagal will lead a training session about school shootings Saturday at the request of his pal Joe Arpaio — an immigration hardliner and the brazen sheriff of Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, which includes Phoenix.
Seagal will train Arpaio's volunteer “posse,” which boasts about 3,500 members and tackles an array of issues, Arpaio told the Los Angeles Times. Among other duties, they help patrol busy malls at Christmastime.
“I said to myself, ‘Hey, let’s transition the mall patrols to the schools,” Arpaio said. “The mission is to patrol the perimeter of the schools as a prevention measure.”
December's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., raised the nation's consciousness about threats to schools. After 20 children and six adults were slain at Sandy Hook by a gunman with a semiautomatic weapon, President Obama called for tighter gun controls and the National Rifle Assn. called for putting armed guards in schools.
On Tuesday, Maricopa deputies arrested a 16-year-old boy who was accused of threatening to shoot another student and having a loaded handgun in his possession, the sheriff's department said in a statement. Deputies have responded to a couple other school-related gun threats in the last few weeks too, Arpaio said.
“That triggered me,” he said. “Wait a minute, this is in our own backyard.”
He hopes Seagal's tutoring at an elementary school northeast of Phoenix will teach the volunteers what to do during school shootings, Arpaio said.
One of the topics? Room-entry tactics.
The training will be “an active type of real scenario,” he said. “That’s how you learn.”
The posse will carry guns during the exercise, but they won’t be loaded.
Seagal, 60, plays a tough guy on screen and has worked in law enforcement. He used to be an occasional deputy for the Jefferson Parish sheriff in Louisiana, where he also had a reality show, "Steven Seagal: Lawman." And just last month, he was sworn in as a deputy in a rural New Mexico county that patrols a swath of the U.S.-Mexico border.
A friend recently told Arpaio that getting help from a big-name actor like Seagal would attract more attention, the sheriff said. The octogenarian lawman laughed, he said, then responded: “The sheriff draws the attention.”
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