Seagal, sheriff train Arizonans to guard schools

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Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio of Arizona is known as "America's toughest sheriff" (AP Photo)

Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio of Arizona is known as “America’s toughest sheriff” (AP Photo)

PHOENIX (AP) – The self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” has joined 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 Connecticut school massacre.

The exercise took place Saturday at a closed school site in a Phoenix suburb, where sheriff’s SWAT members acted as shooters and teenagers played the part of students during mock scenarios involving up to three gunmen.

According to a sheriff’s office, Seagal, best known for his roles in movies such as “Above the Law” and “Under Siege,” was to lead training on hand-to-hand defense tactics, among other techniques, drawing from his expertise in martial arts.

Arizona Democratic House Minority Leader Chad Campbell called the plan to use Seagal as an instructor “ludicrous.”

Campbell has been a vocal critic of Arpaio’s school posse protection plan, complaining that using untrained, armed civilians to protect students is a bad idea and likely will only make the facilities more dangerous.

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