The Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff's Office has launched an initiative where nearly 500 armed volunteers will patrol the areas around 59 schools in unincorporated areas and communities served by the department.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he wants to have as many as 400 posse volunteers and another 100 volunteer reserve deputies take part in the initiative, which was announced on Wednesday, reports the Associated Press. The move was prompted by last month's school massacre in Newtown, Conn., as well as a foiled plot by a local student.

The volunteers will only go onto school grounds if they determine there is a threat. Patrol members will have all the training and powers of traditional law enforcement but will not be paid.