Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is enlisting the help of an armed but unpaid posse of volunteers to aid in his county's battle against drug smuggling, according to a PCSO spokesman.
Babeu announced the formation of the county's Anti-Smuggling Posse (ASP) during a news conference Wednesday with State Sen. Sylvia Allen, Chief Deputy Steve Henry and SWAT Commander Lt. Matt Thomas, according to Tim Gaffney.
The posse will provide surveillance and intelligence support to the PCSO Regional SWAT unit during operations against Mexican drug cartels, Gaffney said.
Members will be armed and required to participate in weapons training and qualifications every three months, Gaffney said. Posse members will also receive tactical training before any operation, Gaffney added.
"We have tremendous interest in participation for this but the bar, the threshold, will be high," Babeu said.
ASP members will be required to pass full background checks and will be trained on the Pinal County Sheriff's Office policy and procedures, Gaffney said.
Earlier this year, PCSO was given more than a million dollars by the state to support the program, so there will be no cost to taxpayers, Babeu said.
Babeu said he's confident they may be able to get an upper hand on the cartel members before they cross the border.
"I commend [the volunteers] for their sense of what it is to be a citizen in our country today, and it harkens back to what a true patriot is," Babeu said.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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