God, guns and fear on Sunday? Arpaio to send posse members to black churches

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio plans to send officers to 60 churches with African-American congregations Sunday in response to a shooting at a historic black church in South Carolina where nine people were killed. FOX 10's Nicole Garcia reports. 6/18/15
There are now safety concerns at historically black churches here in the valley.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies and armed posse members will be patrolling those churches this weekend to keep people safe.

Some valley pastors say they're open to mixing guns and God this Sunday, calling for armed officers to be on guard to protect churchgoers from potential attackers.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio will be deploying his deputies and posse members to churches downtown and South Phoenix on Father's Day amid fears that copycat attackers would turn houses of worship into shooting grounds.

Activists in the valley's African-American community have asked for protection from the MCSO.

"I do have thousands of volunteer posse, no cost to the taxpayers, they're armed, well trained," said Arpaio.

"Our community is under attack," said Rev. Jarrett Maupin.

"Lot of copycats out there and there's a lot of controversy across our nation today and that's what I worry about," said Arpaio.

The extra security will be on hand from about 5:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on June 21st.

The stepped-up patrols could continue the following weeks. Some churches are even open to having armed posse members sit inside, among the congregation.

The Sheriff's plan comes as he is under fire, facing the toughest legal battles in his 22 years in office.

"There may be some people thinking we're doing this politically. It's not political, it's to protect the people. It's my job," he said.

The Sheriff's office is still under the supervision of a federal judge, who ruled that MCSO had systematically racially profiled Latinos during traffic stops and immigration patrols. When asked why he's devoting so many resources to this operation, he replied in defiance.

"The Sheriff runs this organization and I determine what programs to further and this is important to me and I'm going to do it."

The churches are located within Phoenix city limits.

Phoenix Police say they have not received any requests for extra security, but officers are being told to be vigilant this Sunday in light of the Charleston tragedy.

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