As school parents and volunteer posse members listen, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks with media about his new program providing security around schools in his jurisdiction, at Anthem Elementary School, Jan. 9, 2013, inPhoenix / AP
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PHOENIX - An Arizona sheriff has launched a plan to have as many as 500 armed volunteers patrol areas just outside schools in an effort to guard against school shootings.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office said Wednesday that the patrols were launched earlier this week at 59 schools in unincorporated areas of metro Phoenix and communities that pay his agency for police services.
Arpaio hopes to have as many as 400 posse volunteers and another 100 volunteers known as reserve deputies take part in the patrols, though they won't all be patrolling at the same time.
The sheriff says school shootings in Connecticut and elsewhere and last month's arrest of an Arizona student accused of planning an attack at her high school led to his decision to launch the patrols.
He said the volunteers will have "the same training as a regular deputy, same training. So they are well-trained. The only difference with them is they do it for nothing," reports CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO-TV.
The idea, he added, is to "deter anybody that feels they can come into the school and cause havoc."
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