Jorge Vargas, an Arizona jail officer who had been with the department for eight years, was shot and killed in his driveway while working on his truck.
Just hours after the incident, Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced that he would issue AR-15s to every one of his deputies, ordering them to carry a firearm while they are on and off the job. The sheriff used money that was seized during arrests to purchase the weapons.
“We live in a violent society,” Arpaio said. He said that the AR-15s would give his men “enough firepower to fight back.”
The new weapons and policy rules would not apply to jail officers like Vargas.
While it is certainly commendable that Arpaio is attempting to protect the lives of his men, this move raises questions. Is it acceptable for the sheriff’s department to use department resources to purchase firearms that deputies use during their off hours? Do officers really need the military-grade firepower of AR-15s to fight citizens?
Law enforcement agencies have faced criticism for becoming increasingly more militarized. These AR-15s only serve to add more fuel to the controversy.
What are your thoughts on this story? Do you think that Arpaio’s response is acceptable? Should officers carry around assault rifles on the tax payer’s dime?