Sheriff Paul Babeu's announcement Tuesday that he is forming an armed volunteer posse for anti-smuggling efforts fulfilled a long-held goal of some state legislators and others.
On hand for Babeu's announcement was Sylvia Allen, the most recent legislator to pursue state funding for a border volunteer force. Her bill to form the so-called the Arizona Special Missions Unit died this year without vote in the state House. That caused outrage among some militia members, as I discussed in this story.
The idea of forming a state-sanctioned border posse goes back to at least 2007, when state Sen. Jack Harper proposed what he called then a "Homeland Security Force." Then-Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed the bill.
idea arose in a couple of new forms in 2010. First Sen. Al Melvin of SaddleBrooke reacted to the killing of rancher Rob Krentz by proposing a volunteer border force in Cochise County. It didn't go far.
Then, in November that year, Harper revived his earlier efforts. It was a simple, 3/4-page bill to form an Arizona State Guard. It passed and was signed into law but had no funding and thus was toothless. That led to Allen's failed efforts last session.
Allen, who has left the Legislature, was on hand Wednesday as Babeu announced the new posse.
Babeu's Democratic opponent, Kevin Taylor, called the announcement a "political stunt" and said the department ought to focus more on Pinal County residents than anti-smuggling efforts.