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PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is providing each of his patrol deputies with a semi-automatic AR-15 style rifle, and has ordered them to carry a weapon at all times, even when they're off duty.

Arpaio says the rifles will ensure his officers are safe when faced with increasingly more powerful weapons in the hands of criminals. He says he purchased all 400 of the Smith & Wesson rifles with money seized during arrests.

The sheriff also announced Thursday that each of his patrol deputies must carry a firearm with them at all times to be able to combat crime even when they aren't on duty.

Arpaio says ``we live in a violent society,'' and he wants his officers to have ``enough firepower to fight back.''

Associated Press,

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