New Times Rolls With Joe Arpaio's School-Patrol Posse; Nobody Dies

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Photo by Matthew Hendley
John van Steinburg, a member of Joe Arpaio's posse.
"You play golf?" we ask 69-year-old John van Steinburg, as we roll past the entrance to Anthem's country club, riding in a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office patrol car.

He doesn't, but since Sheriff Joe Arpaio's PR staff let us hop in the car with Steinburg -- one of Arpaio's posse members now on armed school-patrol -- we wanted to find out what kind of person wants to spend all day driving laps around an elementary school with a gun.

See also:
-Joe Arpaio Releases List of Posse-Patrolled Schools, Talks Publicity Stunts
-Joe Arpaio's Posse: The COPS Episode (Kind of)
-Joe Arpaio's School-Patrolling Posse Not POST Certified; I.E., They Ain't Cops
-Joe Arpaio's Posse People Starting Armed School Patrols; Which Schools Yet Unknown

As we sit at an intersection, a silver-haired fellow has the window down as his classic SS Camaro rumbles by.

"That could be you," I tell him, as we continue around Diamond Canyon elementary school.

Steinburg still wasn't impressed. The one-time Detroit cop explains that he'd rather be in Arpaio's posse.

In this case, that involves driving about 15 mph around Diamond Canyon elementary school, and through all the dead-silent residential streets that provide access to the school's property. That's his definition of a "hobby," he explains.

Eventually, I actually believe him. It kind of sounds like a boys club -- these guys get to be comrades in uniform, and play cop with each other as a hobby. He's been on the posse for a few months short of four years, and while he's assigned to a detective, he's gotten to be a little closer to some of the actual cop work.

Although Steinburg wasn't a career cop -- he changed careers a few times after his stint in Detroit -- I was definitely in one of the less-questionable posse patrols in this system.

See, in Arpaio's publicity-stunt response to the Newtown, Connecticut massacre, not every posse member is a former cop. And only a fraction of these school-patrolling posse members are assigned to schools in the neo-Stepford Wives community of Anthem. In total, 58 other schools in unincorporated parts of the county will be patrolled by members of Arpaio's posse.

The whole thing still seems strange. Steinburg's wearing the beige uniform, which isn't easy to differentiate from an actual MCSO deputy's -- if there are any differences. The shoulder patch says "deputy sheriff," and his car was an actual MCSO patrol car.

Combine that with his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson M&P, and we find it hard to believe that anyone would be able to tell that Steinburg's not a certified police officer.

Although Steinburg seemed pretty innocuous, we imagined someone without law-enforcement experience, or with different motives for being in the posse, being armed and looking just like a deputy, patrolling a school in Guadalupe.

Of course, although Arpaio claimed yesterday that the "only difference" between a sworn deputy and a posse member is that the posse members aren't paid, there's not too much Steinburg can do aside from being a set of eyes -- and looking like a deputy.

He explained that he'd have to call dispatch or a deputy if he saw something that requires a police response. As illustrated in the old Daily Show clip clowning the posse, they can't run the lights and sirens, either.

So, really, all we can tell you is that nobody died or was injured during this trip, and for once, a New Times reporter was inside an MCSO vehicle, without the Fourth Avenue Jail being the destination. (See: NEW TIMES FOUNDERS MIKE LACEY AND JIM LARKIN RELEASED FROM SHERIFF'S CUSTODY, VOW TO FIGHT ON)

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51 comments
papahutch2000
papahutch2000

There was a website put up by former MCSO personnel, detailing the deaths and injuries [40-50 million dollars in settled cases so far].  Is it still up?  Wish I had saved it.

DNichols
DNichols

Wouldn't it be nice if Arpaio cared about Children, not just his own publicity?

After allowing over Four Hundred, and Fifty cases of Child Molestation, and Rape to go un-investigated years after being reported to his Office, now he is actually placing our School Children in "Harms way" just for Publicity.

I hope our State Legislators, or School Boards will end Arpaio's non-vetted Looneys being any where near our Schools.

Joe Kennedy
Joe Kennedy

Gary first let me say, I have your "Limbaugh" hangin. And secondly, it's "ticktock". Third, I suggest if you don't know what a word means (Gobsmacked) you either educated yourself further or just give up trying to communicate on my level. Now onto your small minded question on an immediate solution that is actually a solution not a PR stunt....Our illustreous pin headed Governor must release the supposed "surplus" cash she is sitting on and dump all of it into the school system. She must also mend fences and beg the Obama Administration to front her more money. Then all schools in this state need a face lift. Re-enforced steel classroom doors that are self closing and self locking. All exterior doors have the same re-enforcement plus key card entry installed. Security cameras around the entire campus aimed at key entry points. No parent comes into the school without a specific reason and without ID. Now of course even these measures can not completely secure the school because if a nut job wants to carry out a plan there really is no stopping them, but there are safeguards in place to lower casualties and make it somewhat harder to carry out a plan. See Gary I have a solution, I've had this solution for sometime now and have pitched it to Washington. While you may not think this is a "practical" solution neither is having a geriatric bunch of 100 hr. clown squad cowboys making things worse. What have you done other than think you can one up someone on a computer? What have you pitched to anyone in government? My guess is you've pitched nothing but diatribe on a FB page.

Sam Beckett
Sam Beckett

I see lots of excuse making, Gary....and little mention of the mountain of corruption the MCSO has been involved in. Can you prove that you voted against the clown?

comrade
comrade

How does anybody knows if this person, Mr. Steinburg is really a retired cop. As soon as The corrupt shurf knew that somebody wanted to raid along with a posse member probably right away he handpicked this person, created a fake identity, giving him a script on what to say, how to act and on and on. The Old Fart knows how to do this very well, being him the most deceitful person, he belongs in a fourth world country or not even there at all, better yet he belongs in prison.

papahutch2000
papahutch2000

Let me get this straight.  shurf arpile [the pile] has found 300 plus mcso vehicles to drive around five days a week, eight hours a day at 15 mph.  So, with fuel and maintenance, that comes to about how much a year?  On top of the 45 plus million he has already cost the county in wrongful death and injury court settlements?  And a year's worth of vehicle emissions will come to?  And what will the boredom burnout ratio be?  Two weeks; two months?  When the glory frenzy wears off?

Gary Waterman
Gary Waterman

And please o'please dont suggest "Put a cop in every school". Although that IS the ideal solution it is completely impractical. Saying you would go for that plan is also saying you would vote YES to increase every Police Departments budget by about 50%. Pretty sure since you are a Rush Limbaugh type (All bitching, no ideas)that you wouldnt vote on that. In any case, it would take about a year to put that plan into affect. Whats YOUR master plan to protect kids TOMORROW MORNING? btw another school shooting today in Cali! Its coming soon to a school near YOU. How do YOU stop it?

Gary Waterman
Gary Waterman

I havent been whatever smacked by anything! As I said, I think Joe needs to go! I am speaking about what I know of the program and interaction with SOME of its members. I certainly cant speak for all of them but those I have encountered have been none of the negative things people say of them. I would ask you this...Name an alternative plan that starts NOW and is practical?? Much like every single other person wasting their time mouthing off about Joe, you have neglected to do that 1 thing. You have not mentioned protecting kids even once. You havent mentioned an idea. You havent addressed the ACTUAL issue going on! I to have issues with Joe and voted against him. What is YOUR master plan?? (I'll assume the monkey idea was a sarcastic joke...i'll give you that much credit)

Joe Kennedy
Joe Kennedy

Gary you obviously have been gobsmacked by Arpaios bullshit. He has at his disposal somewhere around 185 posse members. They get a total of 16 hrs of weapons training. . They may take more training classes if they feel like it, but it's not mandatory. There are posse members with criminal records some crime involving children. It was all documented by KPHO. So to post the BS you did acting as though you know something all of us don't is a joke. And Arpaio is known for his media whoring and that is all this is once again. I would rather see trained monkeys protect the schools then Arpaios goof squad.

robert_graham
robert_graham topcommenter

I wish the reporter had been arrested and taken to the 4th Avenue jail where he belongs. Maybe next time.

Gary Waterman
Gary Waterman

..what we ARE talking about is a relatively small group of them, perhaps 300 or so that HAVE been trained in firearms, CONTINUE to be trained in firearms, have had background checks done, operated under the tightest rules the Posse has, train WITH active Deputies and many of which ARE in fact retired officers. Those who ARENT must function in an atmosphere filled with actual officers AND retired officers who are also looking for bad apples. Here is the best part. The Posse isnt doing ANYTHING you, I or some other unknown person cant currently do under current law. Do you PREFER some random person NOBODY is looking after, with NO training and NO background in tactics sitting in the park near your kids school with a gun doing a BAD job of vigalante justice? Did you know that NO current law stops any of us from doing that? Would I PREFER post certified officers in EVERY school? Yes I would but since THATS not gonna happen anytime soon..i guess i'll just have to settle (for now) for the 2nd best option. A group of trained people circling the school trying to deter another shooter. Got a BETTER idea? Say it!

Gary Waterman
Gary Waterman

...Do i think the Posse is without flaw? No i do not but from what I DO know about them they are hardly the hotbed of idiots and fools some people paint them to be. They are NOT actually loaded with wannabe cops. (not saying some arent). They are NOT all gun toting freaks. In fact, most of them will have NOTHING to do with these school patrols. Some are trained for traffic control, crowd control, inmate processing, they wander sporting events looking to help people with directions, information, helping lost children and a host of other things. A simple fact. If they havent received the proper training for something, they do NOT participate in those actions. The Posses system is set up that way. Not all Posse members do all Posse activities...

Gary Waterman
Gary Waterman

I voted against Sheriff Joe. Many years ago i thought he was the best Sheriff in the country..and back then perhaps he was. To this day i like many things he does. However, he has also become very divicive (sic). He is TO authoritative, a media hound and frankly he just comes across like a grumpy old man. I think it is time for Joe to go. Having said that, I am in complete agreement with the Posse patroling schools. I know this paper is a hot bed for anti Joe sentiment and I can respect most of it but most negative opinions I have seen about the school patrols are just way off base, of little fact, filled with conspiracy theory and at times absurd. Who here doesnt think something needs to be done to protect our schools? Anyone?... Thats what I thought. We all agree something needs to be done. Anyone have a better idea..thats practical.. and immediate? Anyone? Anyone at all? No? Well lets all just agree that this may not be a perfect solution but its at least a step in the right direction! If you think the posse is a bunch of yahoos I challenge you to actually look into what they do and how they do it...and i would advise you to get NONE of your info from New Times. Their slanderous and libalous bias is well documented!.....

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

So we the taxpayers are paying for the vehicles and their maintenance (and gas?), for 100 members of the Prune Posse to drive around 5 days a week.

Seems that's 100 cars that could be sold, to help pay back the $100m in jail funds Arpaio illegally used. 

Josh Skora
Josh Skora

Just wait til he gets a hold of student info, he'll probably be checking immigration status on them and their families. How did this joke get re-elected?! Fucking Stauffer...

Ricky Hollywood
Ricky Hollywood

Wouldn't scarecrows that look like Jan Brewer have worked better ? Turning the proverbial bad guys to stone and all ?

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

Everything good here - except the gun.  It still makes me a bit uncomfortable that these folks who are not POST certified officers are packing heat around the schools. 

But if I were passing by his patrol car on the road, I would have no idea he has no authority to pull me over and, as a result, I would watch my speed and driving just a little more closely under the assumption that he does have that authority.  I suspect that his presence around the school may have a similar deterrent effect.  Not necessarily for a Jared Laughner or James Holmes who are seriously mentally ill, but for those who may have stronger control over their faculties or who want to commit theft or vandalism or something less serious than mass murder.

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

cool, hes an ex cop...i have to wonder why hes an ex cop first, and second whats the point of having eyes and ears if they cant respond...lol less we forget, it takes an average of 45 mins for MCSO to respond to 911 calls already...

wtf...
wtf...

I'm glad you stayed safe out there Mr. Hendley, it's a dangerous world and you really risked your life all in the name of good journalism and to keep us well informed! and to the gentleman Mr. Steinburg, you are a HERO!.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@comrade Wasn't JT Ready a member of the MCSO Posse?  A known neo-nazi that gunned down 4 people including an infant..

bobunf
bobunf

@comrade Remember when Arpaio deputized Sgt. David Pecard, a military imposter and ex-con. Pecard was given access to crime computers and inmates; he was later arrested after he checked two female prisoners out of jail and molested them. Pecard was charged with fraud, sex crimes and other offenses. But later the criminal counts were dismissed by a judge who ruled the Sheriff's Office illegally recorded calls and opened attorney mail. 

bobunf
bobunf

@papahutch2000 IRS's standard mileage rate for 2013 is 56.5 cents per mile.  120 miles a day (actually probably more going to and from) for 300 vehicles = $20,350 per week or $610,200 per school year. Plus 300 uniforms and other perks (another $100,000?),  Plus admin, e.g., keeping tract of what these guys are up to.   Probably close to a million bucks.

And Arpaio does this without so much as a "by your leave" from the people who set the budget - the Board of Supervisors - any school officials, any coordination with other police agencies.   Typical Arpaio: Waste money, strut in front of the camera, and, at the best, doesn't do any other harm.  What a deal !!

PissOnArpaio
PissOnArpaio

@Gary Waterman  

Wow, you're not from around here are you ?

bobunf
bobunf

@Gary Waterman Gary, just think of what Arpaio's paid deputies are made of.  Remember Hendershot, Fox, Black.  Or about this one:

Maricopa County Sheriff's Sgt. Leo Driving Hawk Sr. confessed before a U.S. District magistrate in Phoenix to a felony in his role as part of a $78 million swindle at his father's bank, where he moonlighted as vice president. He stayed on the Maricopa County payroll for two years after the confession.  


pearlsvaluables
pearlsvaluables

Joe ArpaioFan, I wish you would choke and die on Joes cum

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@JoeArpaioFan Joke LOVES to arrest reporters in the middle of the night, in Black SUV's with Mexican plates.


Would you like a link to that story?

PissOnArpaio
PissOnArpaio

@Gary Waterman  

Now I am convinced, you are from around here and just an idiot.

bobunf
bobunf

@Gary Waterman Just think of the kinds of people who are likely to be in the posse, when you consider the kind of paid deputies Arpaio gets:

Sheriff Arpaio's detention officer Jeffery Higgins was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault and criminal damage after police say he drunkenly pointed a loaded gun (his Maricopa County Sheriff Office issued handgun) at his 19-year-old son.  This was after kicking in the door to his own house.  What kind of people does the Sheriff hire as detention officers?  And issue guns to?


marcy
marcy

@Gary Waterman 

I've got a better idea Gary, do nothing at all.

More kids die every day on the highways than die in school shootings most years.


comrade
comrade

Gary Waterman. You must be JAFFY's relative and a posse member to talk all that nonsense, do You and JAFFY take turns sticking Your heads up the Old Fart's hole?. You are another DELUDED  looney toon. All posse members are an unexperienced bunch that do not even know a code or any tactics, for what use they'd be if they cannot do anything but call the real deputies... if they know how to do that, or remember what they are doing around the schools. Shut your effing pie hole.

pearlsvaluables
pearlsvaluables

Gary, are background checks performed? or are they a bunch of free Jerry Sandusky men? This fears me more than a shooting sorry, but kids idolize police and just to easy for one of these old fuckers to take advantage of another kid and to screw up the life of another child and have them deal with it for a lifetime. Thats fears me because they would use the uniform as a confidence builder to get kids to trust them.....so to me I would imagine a child living with such could already be dead inside and out, just existing, that's sad but VERY true with the ABUSE of POWER from LAW ENFORCEMENT, PRIESTS, JUDGES etc....you know it, it's out there...............let alone not knowing how many of these old bastards Joe has already SET FREE from the EL MIRAGE CASES !....FAJ = fuck a joe

bobunf
bobunf

@Gary Waterman It's hard to credit the posse with much smarts when we see the kind of people the Sheriff hires for pay.  For instance:  Torrey McRae, a four-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, was arrested for  failing to account for more than $5,000 intended for a confidential informant.

OR, Detective Timothy Abrahamson of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department was arrested at his workplace on an arrest warrant for aggravated assault filed in Cass County, North Dakota. He was accused of brutally assaulting a man who had an affair with his wife. Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office granted immunity, in exchange for testimony, to Steven Carpenter, another Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputy who allegedly rode to West Fargo with Abrahamson.  

The victim, 41-year-old Jason Swart, lost part of his right ear in the attack and suffered serious facial cuts. 


WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@Gary Waterman The folks I know that joined the posse did it to get a membership card, they could show if they got pulled over after leaving a bar.

I'm not kidding

robert_graham
robert_graham topcommenter

@WhoKnows But if the officers were paid officers you'd be paying their salaries too so what's your damn problem?

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public  boom!! thats my objection too. they are not real cops so they should not be at the school with guns. i appreciate them offering to help, i just dont want anybody other than a real cop at the schools armed. 

wtf...
wtf...

GUYS!!! I was kidding!!!!... did you not see the sarcasm in my comment! 

alexbadger101
alexbadger101

@wtf... Can you please tell why Stenburg may be a hero?  What has he done to be one?  Simple question...simple answer?

papahutch2000
papahutch2000

@bobunf @papahutch2000 Thanks.  Hope others read this.  Shall we call him Pirate joe arpile?  You surely know the kind of pile i am thinking of.  And who is this enraged 'fan'?  Sounds angry and crazy enough to find out more about.  A perfect job for Paul Rubin, i would say.

Warrior-X
Warrior-X

@WhoKnows @JoeArpaioFan Sorry Whoknows, but that only happened one time. And there was never a 2nd chance. This, after the mighty giant (yes the public) woke up enraged at the "Axis of Evil"(team Candy-ass & the FF). It never happened again. That means JAFucker only has sick fantasies left and nothing more.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@JoeArpaioFan They are UNTRAINED folks that were helping people find their cars at the mall just last month!  Watch the "really old cops" video.  They can't even use lights or sirens!

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@wtf... Yeah, but it was the comment by alexbadger that I suspect was serious (and missed your sarcasm) that annoyed me.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@alexbadger101 @wtf... I can answer that and I don't even like the Sheriff or the Sheriff's Department - he's a hero because he's willing to donate his free time to his community. Whether its serving in this capacity, sorting food at the foodbank, reading to kids in a literacy program, volunteering as a coach at the Boys and Girls Club, washing dogs at a shelter, or clearing litter from a park trail, anyone who is willing to donate their time back into the commnunity is, to some degree, a community hero. You don't have to run into a burning building to be a community hero. Lets not denigrate him for volunteering his time or diminsh his efforts just because we think that the elected Sheriff who heads the department is a major asshole (or is that Commandant Asshole) or the program is misdirected.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@alexbadger101 for a posse member to be a hero, they have to make through the ady with out accidentally discharging their weapon (into someone or themselves). he made it through the interview

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public @danzigsdaddy try to look at it positively. maybe he's seen how corrupt Joe's guys are and is trying to bring integrity back in one person at a time

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@danzigsdaddy And he is a retired cop who still has it in his blood as opposed to a wannabe cop who never had the balls to join a police force but wants to play one anyway.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public I'm gonna give you that one. not all of them are tragic mistakes or dangers to others. there are good and bad in every agency and although MCSO may have more bad than most other agencies, there are still good ones like this guy may be. the big tip that he is probably competent is the fact that MCSO chose this guy for the ride along. they arent going to put a reporter in with a obvious lunatic, they will pick the cream of the crop. just as we want to keep them honest, your observation is keeping us honest too

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