PHOENIX - Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he's assigning his volunteer posse to protect Valley schools.
Starting today, 520 armed posse members will start patrolling schools in Maricopa County.
"They'll be looking for anyone suspicious that's hanging around the schools. They'll also have the authority to go into the schools, but they will primarily focus on the perimeter," Arpaio said.
The sheriff said he wanted to start the patrols after his investigation foiled a plot targeting a Mesa high school.
Deputies said a 16-year-old girl was arrested in December after officers received a tip she was planning on killing her classmates at Red Mountain High School and then herself.
"She admitted that she had the plan in place one week before the Newtown shootings. I believe she was planning on carrying it out," Arpaio said.
Posse members will focus on 52 schools in Maricopa County.
Volunteers will be patrolling in all areas patrolled by MCSO and all incorporated cities.