Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu’s New Posse Too Risky to Insure
An armed volunteer posse set up by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu to scan the desert for violent drug smugglers is running into serious bureaucratic opposition that might thwart the controversial operation.
County officials from across the state and their insurance underwriters believe Babeu has gone too far in recruiting military veterans to help his deputies, who patrol one of the most dangerous sections of Arizona desert, and have deemed the operation too risky.
Following legal warnings from alarmed underwriters that provide liability cover for posse volunteers in most county sheriff’s offices, an agency that coordinates insurance cover is changing its policy to specifically excludeBabeu’s Anti-Smuggling Posse.
Babeu announced the formation of the Anti-Smuggling Posse earlier this month. It is separate from the Sheriff’s Office’s other posse groups, whose members assist patrol deputies and participate in search-and-rescue operations.
His new posse in some ways mirrors legislation Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, sponsored this year to require Gov. Jan Brewer to establish an armed-volunteer state guard on the border. Senate Bill 1083, which Babeu supported, passed in the Senate but stalled in the House. Critics listed liability and training as chief concerns.
I hope Babeu decides to cancel the whole thing. It won’t be him that gets hurt.