Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says it's time his deputies and officers were properly armed on and off duty.
In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Arpaio announced every patrol deputy in Maricopa County is now carrying an AR-15 assault rifle.
The sheriff is also ordering his deputies to carry a handgun whenever they're not at work so they're prepared to protect the community.
"Should any off-duty deputy come across a crime being committed, it is the policy of this office for that deputy to take the appropriate action to resolve the situation," said Arpaio. "While this decision may seem controversial to some in the public and among other law enforcement agencies, I have extreme confidence in the training and professionalism of the men and women deputies in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office."
Arpaio said RICO funds paid for the 400 high power assault weapons.
The sheriff says the change is "a must." Three of his deputies have been shot during the last two years.
"I want all my deputies to be armed with the greatest firepower available 24 hours a day," said Arpaio.