Monday, February 18, 2013

Sheriff Joe’s posse

Sheriff Joe’s posse invades Guadalupe -
The MCSO holds posse recruitment sessions on the third Wednesday of every month at its training facility in South Phoenix, just west of the animal shelter. I sat through the first recruitment session of 2013, joining more than 40 aspiring possemen who arrived early, many with completed applications in hand. We gathered in a tidy auditorium adorned with black-and-white portraits of the Maricopa County sheriffs of yesteryear, dating back to its founding in 1871. We were greeted by Deputy Tom Hughes, a quick-witted, flat-topped military vet who supervises recruitment and background checks for the posse program. A quick scan of the assembled: six people of color, four women, two men in camouflage, two men in Vietnam veteran hats, too many buzz cuts to count without looking suspicious.

The meeting began at 6:30 p.m. sharp with a DVD to pump us up. Sheriff Joe materialized on the overhead screen, jabbing his meaty index finger at the camera as he told us how proud he was of his posse. A star-shaped badge swept across the screen, setting up a Winston Churchill quote about service. Star-swoosh to sepia-toned photographs of the original mounted posse from Arizona’s territorial days. Star-swoosh to a montage of 21st century possemen, romping around on four-wheelers to a bitchin’ electric guitar soundtrack. Then we get up close and personal with the posse as they assist on traffic stops, transport sullen brown people, round up deadbeats, practice hand to hand combat in the mat room, whack the shit out of a dummy with a baton, peek around the most dangerous corner of an imaginary crime scene, blast human-shaped silhouettes with semi-automatic rifles, and more thrills so intense that just watching could make you thirsty for a beer. The film concludes with crosscuts to each of the featured possemen who stare right at the viewer, asking the question on everyone’s mind: “Are you ready?”

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