In late January, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone announced a temporary suspension of volunteer posse enforcement activities by individual posse members while undergoing a background check process. Now, Arizona State Reps. Ben Toma, Frank Carroll, and Sen. David Livingston are calling on Penzone to “quickly” reinstate Posse members serving Sun City West.
Last month, Sheriff Penzone suspended duties of the Sheriff’s Posse after an audit found “that poor record-keeping had resulted in some unqualified individuals being allowed to continue participating in posse activities. For example: individuals with prior arrests and/or convictions for domestic violence, drug offenses, sex offenses, and other criminal activity. Those individuals have already been removed from the posse,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.
On February 4, Penzone announced that he was planning to visit Sun City West for “Coffee with the Sheriff” on February 7, to discuss the suspension and “any other concerns from the community.”
The three lawmakers issued a press release on February 6, expressed their concerns for Sun City West residents.
“While I appreciate the measures instituted by Sheriff Penzone to ensure that posse members are eligible to serve, it’s my hope that he makes the Sun City West posse fully operational again,” said Toma. “Sun City West residents rely on the posse for community watch programs and other critical services.”
“Sun City West is safer with posse members patrolling the community,” said Carroll. “I’m glad that steps are being taken to provide greater oversight, but I hope that we can quickly get qualified posse members back on the streets of Sun City West.”
“There is no other community in Maricopa County that relies more on the posse than Sun City West,” said Livingston. “With no city police serving the area, Sun City West relies on the posse for important community needs like checking on the welfare of
individuals or responding to traffic accidents. I hope that the Sheriff will reconsider his decision to upend the community with his sudden suspension of the posse.”
In his announcement, Penzone noted that the disqualified Posse members “by no means represent the majority of posse members, MCSO has a duty to ensure that every posse member in an enforcement role has undergone a similar background check process as our deputy, detention, and civilian employees.”