Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s volunteer armed posse is back at Valley malls for the holidays, patrolling the parking lots to protect shoppers
The official kick-off was held at 4 p.m. at the Paradise Valley Mall.
Created in 1993, the goal of the posse is to deter criminals, but this year, there's an additional focus.
With terror attacks and mass shootings making headlines throughout 2015, Arpaio said law enforcement is the first line of defense and that includes The Sheriff's Possee, which is made up entirely of volunteers. They had to go through training to don a uniform, wear a badge and carry a gun. Arpaio said he considers them a part of law enforcement.
“Citizens should take action, those carrying guns,” Arpaio said. “So when you’re saying law enforcement wants to take the guns away. I know the president and other people want to take the guns away, but not in this state.”
Sheriff Arpaio is calling for civilians with guns to intervene if needed, saying, "I expect armed citizens to take action in the event of a terror attack or if other violence occurs until law enforcement arrives."
Malls and shopping areas remain so-called "soft targets" or places that have very little or no security. Terror experts are weighing in, saying these types of places may become targets for groups or individuals who'd like to inflict harm on a large amount of people in relatively short periods of time.
Experts recommend that everyone be aware of their surroundings and have a possible shelter in mind just in case.
Also, get away from the situation if something is happening. That also means keeping your head up and your eyes open so that you make sure you're not running towards another type of threat.
Finally, have a plan in place. That means asking yourself how you would escape and where you would hide if you couldn't leave.