The controversial sheriff said he would start a new illegal immigration operations posse back in the summer of 2010, during the height of the debate over Arizona's illegal immigration law. He said the resources would help his department get the job done.
"Law enforcement budgets are being cut and agencies are losing personnel and yet the battle to stop illegal immigration must continue," Arpaio said in a statement. "Arizona is the busiest port of entry for people being smuggled in from Mexico, Latin and South America. So asking for the public's help in this endeavor makes sense, especially given the success the posses have experienced over the years."
Also being sworn in on Wednesday was actor Peter Lupus from "Mission Impossible"; a retired Chicago police official named Dick Tracy; and Wyatt Earp, nephew of the famous lawman.
"These guys are busy with their acting careers so I don't expect them to be here on duty very often. But they can be instrumental in heightening public awareness of the immigration issue and encouraging others to join the posse's effort to help reduce the flow of illegal immigrants into our communities," Arpaio said.
The 56 new members -- 33 of whom are qualified to carry a weapon -- come from all walks of life, said the Sheriff's office. Some are "pilots, attorneys, former law enforcement or military officers, truckers, business owners, computer programmers, financial advisors and real estate experts," the office said.
New deputies, said the sheriff's office, will "work with deputies in searching for load vehicles and drop houses, transporting illegal immigrants arrested for potential immigration violations, containment of load vehicles or businesses during criminal employment sweeps, and crowd control during demonstrations against the Sheriff's immigration policies."
They'll also be covered by the county's insurance as they perform their duties by the county trust, said Cari Gerchick, a spokeswoman for Maricopa County. Back in June, purchasing cards which had been issued to some posse members were canceled, Gerchick said.
Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office are also under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly discriminatory anti-illegal immigration practices. DOJ sued Arpaio for refusing to fully cooperate with their investigation into alleged national origin discrimination. This month a judge extended the deadline for Arpaio to turn over requested documents until Dec. 3.
Separately, the FBI is probing whether a top Arpaio aide mismanaged the Sheriff's Office. Don't worry too much about the Sheriff, he has his own 527 group set up to "defend Sheriff Joe's reputation against the Obama administration's effort to stop enforcement of our immigration laws."
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(H/T Washington Times)