Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (L) watches as actor and Maricopa County posse member Steven Seagal addresses the media about a simulated school shooting in Fountain Hills, Arizona. REUTERS/Darryl Webb
Action film star Steven Seagal, who racks up big body counts
in his on-screen battles with bad guys, took on a new role at
the weekend, training posse volunteers for controversial
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio in how to use guns to protect
schools in shooting incidents.
Arpaio, who styles himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff,"
enlisted Seagal to train his Maricopa County posse members at
a school in Fountain Hills, a suburb northeast of Phoenix,
with children used as stand-ins for scared students.
Seagal, a burly martial arts expert turned actor, guided 48
volunteers through various aspects of responding to a
shooting, including room-to-room searches, and critiqued
"I am here to try to teach the posse firearms and martial
arts to try to help them learn how to respond quicker and
help protect our children," Seagal said.
Arpaio, whose tough stances on crime and illegal immigration
have made him a national figure, has dispatched the volunteer
posse to patrol schools in response to the shooting rampage
that killed 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut
school in December.
Those killings touched off a renewed debate over gun violence
in the United States. President Barack Obama proposed a
sweeping package of gun-control measures, including a ban on
The National Rifle Association, which opposes the gun-control
proposal, has advocated placing armed security guards in
Arpaio's volunteers, some trained and qualified to carry the
same guns as deputies, can intervene if there is an imminent
threat to life. To add realism to the training event, guns
firing non-lethal rounds that leave a color mark were used.
"It's important to help protect our children and our schools
and we need to do that with whatever means we have," said
Rick Velotta, a posse member and retired General Electric
manager who attended the training.
About a dozen people protested the event.
"No gun should ever be in a school," said protester Cynthia
Wharton, a Fountain Hills resident.
Arpaio's 3,450-strong posse of unpaid men and women has for
years helped the sheriff target drunken drivers and illegal
immigrants, and chase down fathers who are behind on child
Last year, Arpaio sent posse members to Hawaii to investigate
the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate at the request
of local Tea Party activists, a key Arpaio constituency.
A sometime resident of the Phoenix Valley and member of
Arpaio's posse, Seagal, 60, starred in big-budget films in
the 1980s and early 1990s, earning a reputation as an action
star in movies like "Above the Law" and "Under Siege."
He more recently played a corrupt Mexican drug lord in the
2010 film "Machete."
Seagal also has been sworn in as a sheriff's deputy in a
Texas county along the border with Mexico and appeared in a
reality TV show detailing his work as a reserve deputy in New