PHOENIX – The self-proclaimed America’s Toughest Sheriff is joining forces this weekend with action movie star Steven Seagal to train volunteer armed posse members to defend Phoenix-area schools against gunmen.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced the controversial plan in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December that left 27 people dead, including the gunman.
The exercise was planned for Saturday at a closed school site in suburban Fountain Hills outside Phoenix where sheriff’s SWAT members were to act as shooters and 25 teenagers were to play the part of students during mock scenarios involving up to three gunmen.
Seagal, best known for his roles in movies such as Above the Law and Under Siege, will lead training on hand-to-hand defense tactics, among other techniques, drawing from his expertise in martial arts, according to a sheriff’s office news release.
Arpaio boldly announced the plan in January on the grounds of an elementary school, saying at the time he wanted the patrols publicized.
Arizona Democratic House Minority Leader Chad Campbell called the plan to use Seagal as an instructor ludicrous.
Steve Seagal is an actor. That’s it. Why don’t we also have Clint Eastwood and Chuck Norris and Bruce Willis come out and train them too while we’re at it? Campbell said.