The Pinal County Sheriff plans to send an armed volunteer posse into the desert to help fight drug smuggling. Would you volunteer to go after violent drug smugglers?
Sheriff Paul Babeu says the volunteer posse is almost completely made up of former military or law enforcement officers. He says they've gone through background checks and training.
But some say the plan may just add to the problem. It's a cost savings measure that some hope doesn't cost lives.
With 5,000 square miles of desert to cover, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu says there aren't enough deputies.
He now plans to arm volunteer citizens to help fight drug smuggling in the desert.
"These are all volunteers. They're paid nothing, it's just out of their spirit of patriotism and service to their community, they want to save our state," says Babeu.
Before heading out to the desert, the sheriff says the volunteers will undergo more than 100 hours of training, including policy and procedure, constitutional law and weapons training.
"They're not going to have the powers of arrest, that's because of surveillance and intelligence gathering is their primary mission and they're armed to protect themselves, because it's a very dangerous area," says Babeu.
"I think it's a bad idea," says Rep. Chad Campbell, Arizona House Minority Leader.
Minority leader Chad Campbell points to Nicholas Ivie's death. The Border Patrol agent is believed to have been killed by friendly fire.
"We just recently saw what a complicated and dangerous environment we have on the border in this state. To send out volunteers who may jeopardize their own lives and other agents lives, it's just a bad idea," says Campbell.
Although the volunteers aren't paid, the county is providing vehicles and weapons.
"We talk about the potential dangerous outcomes of this but also it's probably a waste of time and taxpayers money when it's all said and done."
The sheriff won't give a total cost but says the benefit outweighs any cost to the program.
He says they've had hundreds of people interested in volunteering. While a group has been put together, the posse hasn't gone on a mission yet.